Scott Cordes

Director, Budget and Innovation, City of Saint Paul
February 8, 2017
Smartly Resourced

There are a small handful of people in city halls around the country who oversee innovation strategies and their city’s overall budget. Scott Cordes is one of them. As the Director of Innovation and Budget for the City of Saint Paul, Minn., Scott leads problem-solving efforts and ensures the city’s resources align with its commitments and strategic priorities.

While getting his master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Scott served as an intern in the City of Saint Paul’s budget office. Six years later, in 2010, he became the Budget Director. In 2013, Mayor Chris Coleman appointed Scott as Saint Paul’s first Innovation Director. During his seven years of directing a $550 million operating and $50 million capital budget process, Saint Paul has consistently maintained AAA ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

The dual role of directing budget and innovation makes sense to Scott. “Coordinating budget development with transformational innovation initiatives provides us with the best opportunity to align resources with strategy,” he said. “This approach has helped us to both improve city services to our residents and continue to deliver fiscally responsible budgets.”

Collaboration and the smart use of data have been key to implementing an enterprise innovation strategy.  Under Scott’s leadership, The City of Saint Paul Innovation Team created the first enterprise performance management system to align the city’s functional goals and measures with enterprise and departmental strategic objectives. In 2013, he co-created the City of Saint Paul Emerging Leaders Academy, which develops the next generation of city leaders to effectively spearhead initiatives, manage projects and people, and efficiently deliver city services. Additionally, he has executed several enterprise transformation projects that have yielded millions of dollars in capital and operational savings for the city.  One of those projects completely revamped Saint Paul Public Works, reducing operating costs by 20 percent and salt usage by 40 percent during snow emergencies.

Under Scott’s leadership, Saint Paul became one of the first 20 cities in the United States to be invited into Bloomberg Philanthropies “What Works Cities” initiative. Locally his team won the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce 2015 Political Leadership Award for Financial Performance for their use of data and metrics to more efficiently deliver city services.

A native of Minnesota, Scott serves on several policy committees, including the League of Minnesota Cities, Metro Cities and the Metro Lab Network. In addition to his master’s degree, Scott has a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

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