Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that Lincoln has been selected as one of 16 new cities to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Work Cities initiative. Lincoln is the first city in Nebraska to participate in the initiative, one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. City Council members Leirion Gaylor Baird and Trent Fellers joined the Mayor in making the announcement. Gaylor Baird first brought the What Works Cities initiative to the attention of the Mayor's Office.
As a What Works city, Lincoln will receive technical assistance at no cost from world-class experts to build capacity in two areas:
"Our Taking Charge public engagement process has helped us set community priorities, establish goals and use broad data to measure success as we develop the City's budget," said Beutler. "But our use of data shouldn't end once the budget book is printed. Data is an important tool for driving the day-to-day management of the City and instilling accountability for results. Improving the use of data will yield new directions for City policy. It will help us become more efficient, more effective, and more transparent."
What Works Cities was launched in April 2015, and 55 mid-sized U.S. cities are now working to better use data and evidence to improve services for residents, inform local decision-making and engage citizens. The cities are in 33 states, represent 19 million residents and have annual budgets exceeding $63 billion. The initiative will partner with 100 cities on a rolling basis through 2018.
"What Works Cities supports open data efforts by providing technical assistance with things like data inventory and by sharing best practices from other cities so we don't have to reinvent the wheel," said Gaylor Baird. "We'll utilize their expertise to help make our city's data more accessible to the public and across city departments, to engage residents around government priorities and services, and to increase transparency and accountability."
"Open data is the next generation of government transparency," Fellers said. "In business, data drives decision-making, and government should be no different. What Works Cities will help us establish a culture in City government of thinking about what data we collect, how to use it and how we can publish it in meaningful ways. With a new data policy, the committee's work, and the help of What Works Cities, I hope that someone in the future will pick up some of this data and use it to help the City set new policy, create a business or help us solve problems."
"We are thrilled to welcome these new cities to the initiative, furthering our mission to help cities leverage data and evidence to improve their residents' lives," said Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities. "We're proud to add the commitment of these 16 new and innovative cities to this national movement."
The other 15 cities selected as new What Works Cities participants are Albuquerque, New Mexico; Birmingham, Alabama; Boulder, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Fort Worth, Texas; Hartford, Connecticut; Knoxville, Tennessee; Madison, Wisconsin; Nashville, Tennessee; Olathe, Kansas; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; South Bend, Indiana; Syracuse, New York; and Virginia Beach, Virginia. More information and a list of the other cities participating in the initiative are available at whatworkscities.org.
To support cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies has assembled a consortium of leading organizations, including the Behavioral Insights Team; the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University; the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School; Results for America; and the Sunlight Foundation. With their help, cities are identifying more effective ways to evaluate programs and improve performance; use resources to serve their communities; and address a range of social challenges.
Another benefit in joining What Works Cities is the growing national network of local leaders and global experts actively sharing best practices for outcomes-focused government. Through the initiative, 90 U.S. mayors and more than 1,700 city employees are finding ways to better use data and evidence to improve services. What Works Cities has produced 130 resources that cities around the world are using to improve their communities.