What Works Cities Initiative

In September 2017, Baton Rouge was selected as one of five new cities to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ national What Work Cities initiative – one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. Through this partnership, the City-Parish has received technical assistance from world-class experts to build capacity to address local issues using data and evidence.

The City-Parish’s work with the What Works Cities team has focused around two key areas: open data and performance management.

Through open data, the City-Parish built upon existing practices focused on making local government data more accessible and is continuing to engage residents around government priorities and services. Specifically, this includes the ongoing expansion of the Open Data BR portal through policy-related measures requiring City-Parish departments to meet “open by default” standards for public information in the coming years and encouraging the rapid public release of publishable datasets that are readily accessible and do not contain sensitive information.

 Additionally, the City-Parish is in the process of developing a performance management program that will help to inform long-term recovery efforts related to the August 2016 flooding event, particularly those related to local housing impacted by this disaster. This work includes the setting, tracking, and sharing of progress toward priority goals, thereby strengthening the overall accountability of recovery efforts and achieving better results in the process. Under the direction of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, the program is being led by a cross-departmental team of City-Parish departments and stakeholders whose agencies may be impacted or may influence housing-related recovery work, which includes outreach to and collaboration with relevant state and federal agencies.

The consortium of expert organizations assembled by Bloomberg Philanthropies to deliver support to cities comprises 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. Through these expert partners, which are providing technical assistance to 100 cities on a rolling basis through 2018, cities like Baton Rouge around the country are receiving support, guidance and resources to succeed. In 2016, What Works Cities was named by Forbes as “one of the ten most promising philanthropic bets” of the year and by Engaging Local Government Leaders as the “most important company operating in the local government arena.” In March 2017, the initiative launched What Works Cities Certification, the first-ever national standard for data-driven governance. The report “What Works Cities: How Local Governments Are Changing Lives,” released in June 2017, summarizes cities’ accomplishments with the initiative. For more information, visit whatworkscities.org.