After it's all said and done, city council needs to ask itself whether it received full value from KPMG for its review of the City of Prince George's core services.
The process isn't complete yet but Mayor Shari Green, councillors and senior city staff, led by the next occupant of the city manager's chair, need to ask one simple question - could we have done this ourselves and spared the expense of bringing in an expensive outside consultant?
The list of "suggested opportunities" KMPG compiled from the public engagement sessions is a mish-mash of the thoughtful, the interesting, the pie-in-the-sky and the insane ideas put forward.
The most insightful revelation not in that list but painfully obvious between the lines is something municipal politicians and city staff, along with longtime political watchers, have known forever - most of the public has little or no clue what the city does.
Green said as much at Tuesday night's public session when she explained that it's an "ongoing challenge to keep people up to date on every single thing we do."
Most organizations hire a communications manager to address that challenge but wait...that position was axed before the core review even began.
Back to KPMG.
City staff completed similar public engagement sessions when it was working on the myPG planning piece a couple of years ago so it's not like senior city managers don't know how to go before the public and collect input.
KPMG took the "suggested opportunities" brought forward by the public and promptly dismissed 48 of those suggestions, filing them politely in the "Don't Do" category.
City staff, under the direction of senior management and council, could have done that, too, so there's still nothing here that couldn't have been done without the expertise of KPMG.
On the flip side, KPMG ranked as a "high" priority to "optimize staffing requirements at all fire stations," including reducing staff at certain fire stations, using volunteers and/or part-time firefighters at certain times and certain stations, as well as vary staffing levels based on time of day, days of the week and historical volumes on those days and times.
Here's where city staff and council could have put the brakes on, since that idea has gone over as well as a "pull my finger" joke at a formal banquet.
Green said it best Tuesday night: "I think we're hearing pretty loud and clear it's not supported in the community, by staff, by the fire team and, most likely, by council as well."
So, in other words, KPMG wasted their time and our time and money by ranking a suggestion as "high" when not only is it a non-starter across the community, it borders on being illegal, since fire department managers have a legal duty to firefighters to take "reasonable steps" to keep them from harm in performance of their duties. "Reasonable steps" would include working equipment, proper training and adequate staffing levels.
Spot the outside consultant who has no idea what the pulse of the community is when it comes to those core services.
There is still time for KPMG to redeem itself and find those big pots of savings that voters and city council were hoping could be discovered in the back corners of the bureaucracy.
But time is short.
The public's opportunity to take part in an online survey on the city's website ends on Thanksgiving Monday and KPMG's final report is due at the end of the month.
KPMG called the suggestion to reduce staffing levels at local fire halls "one of the largest tax reduction opportunities" but that idea was kicked to the curb Tuesday.
So KPMG has fewer options and only a few weeks to find something else to hang their core services review hat on.
And after that report comes out with whatever else they think can save the city some money, it will be time to assess the assessors - did KPMG give us good value for our investment or were their efforts a waste of time and money?
If the answer is the latter, accountability for that waste belongs nowhere else but with mayor and council.