Connecting state and local government leaders

Bloomberg Philanthropies Name First ‘What Works Cities’ for Data Improvement Initiatives

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington Trong Nguyen /


Connecting state and local government leaders

Eight mid-sized cities will be getting expert support and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

SEATTLE — The use of data underpins essentially everything in municipal governance and management. Some cities use their data better than others. And even the cities doing a good job can improve the ways they leverage their amassed data.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies want to help mid-sized cities through its data-driven What Works Cities initiative and have selected eight municipalities which will benefit from “expert on-the-ground support and peer-to-peer learning opportunities,” according to an announcement.

Those cities are Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Mesa, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Seattle, Washington.

The What Works Cities initiative launched in April 2015 and within six weeks, 112 U.S. cities in 41 states had applied; 100 cities will be admitted to the program in stages through 2017.

“The first group of cities in the What Works Cities program represent the range of local leaders across the country who are committed to using data and evidence to improve people’s everyday lives,” said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

What’s on the data agendas for the first eight cities? According to the Bloomberg Philanthropies announcement:

  • Jackson and Mesa will implement open data practices for the first time
  • Chattanooga, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, Seattle, and Tulsa will strengthen existing open data practices
  • Jackson and Tulsa will implement a citywide, mayoral led performance management program for the first time
  • Chattanooga, Kansas City, and Mesa will strengthen existing performance management programs
  • New Orleans and Louisville will develop the capacity to conduct low-cost, real time program evaluations
  • Seattle will focus on integrating data and evidence into their contracts to achieve better results

“This initiative will give us access to experts who can help us in our drive toward transparent, data-driven governance—empowering us to make decisions necessary for our city’s future based on the facts instead of just our feelings,” Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber said in a statement. “In this economic climate, we must do more with less. This initiative will help us dramatically improve the lives of our citizens.”

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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