Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced an investment of $42 million to expand its What Works Cities initiative, a national effort focused on improving and enhancing the use of data and data-based evidence by municipal governments.
Launched in 2015 with an initial investment of $42 million, What Works Cities has provided direct support to a hundred cities in thirty-nine states, enabling city halls to use data to better define problems and make progress in areas such as health and safety, homelessness, and blight. Now a part of the $200 million Bloomberg American Cities Initiative launched by the foundation last year, What Works Cities recently announced the first cohort of cities to achieve What Works Cities certification in recognition of their use of data to improve residents' lives based on factors such as whether past performance is considered in the awarding of city contracts, whether city agency meetings are focused on numbers, whether key datasets are open to the public, and whether agencies have dedicated staff to tracking results.
"Cities are solving more problems and making more progress on intractable issues — and better information is the superpower helping them do it," said What Work Cities executive director Simone Brody in a blog post. "They're also taking this work out of their technology or data office and spreading it across city government. Mayors are demanding budget decisions be made with data, they're evaluating new citywide programs to see if they work, and they're having strategic conversations with service providers about the outcomes they hope to achieve. City leaders are becoming effective consumers of data. The culture of whole city governments is shifting — and the power of that is incredible."
According to Bloomberg Philanthropies' annual report, the foundation invested a total of $702 million in nearly four hundred and eighty cities in 2017.
"Mayors and other local officials cannot get away with constructing realities or playing partisan games," wrote Bloomberg Philanthropies founder and former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in his annual report letter. "They are the officials most directly responsible for the services people depend on."