Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the launch of the What Works Cities initiative, a $42 million effort to help a hundred U.S. cities use data and evidence more effectively to engage the public, make local government more responsive, and improve people's lives.
With the goal of helping midsize cities with between a hundred thousand and a million people solve problems and improve services for residents, the initiative will provide local leaders with technical assistance, expertise, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities designed to help them incorporate data into their budget, operational, and policy decision making; conduct low-cost, real-time assessments that enable them to continually improve their services; and focus funding on approaches that deliver results for citizens. Over time, the initiative also will launch a benchmarking system that collects comparable, standardized data so participating cities can understand their performance relative to their peers.
Partners in the initiative include Results for America, which will lead and coordinate the effort and work to advance a nationwide dialogue on the need for cities to use data and evidence in decision making; the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, which will work with participating cities to assess the current state of What Works practices and support implementation and enhancement of open data and performance management programs; the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, which will support participating cities in improving the results they achieve with their contracted dollars; the Sunlight Foundation, which will work with cities to craft meaningful and sustainable open data policies; and the Behavioral Insights Team, which will help cities conduct low-cost, real-time assessments of their services as a first step toward continuous improvement those services.
"While cities are working to meet new challenges with limited resources, they have access to more data than ever — and they are increasingly using it to improve people's lives," said Michael R. Bloomberg. "We'll help them build on their progress, and help even more cities take steps to put data to work. What works? That's a question that every city leader should ask — and we want to help them find answers."