BATON ROUGE, LA – July 14, 2021 – What Works Cities, a national initiative launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help cities use data and evidence more effectively to tackle their most pressing challenges, announced today its recognition of Baton Rouge for achieving 2021 What Works Cities Certification, the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance.
Baton Rouge achieved silver certification as one of only 16 cities to be newly certified this year and one of only 40 cities to be certified since the program’s launch in April 2017. What Works Cities Certification evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making.
“I am proud for Baton Rouge to be recognized by What Works Cities for how we use data and promote transparency in all we do across City-Parish government,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “From our award-winning Open Data BR and EBRGIS programs to how we are improving health outcomes and implementing massive capital improvement programs, data and evidence are at the heart of how we make and communicate decisions to the residents we serve.”
“City leaders are using data to understand and support the needs of residents like never before,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America, the lead partner in the What Works Cities initiative. “Throughout the COVID crisis and a historic reckoning with racial injustice, mayors have relied on data to identify and narrow racial gaps, and to make smarter investments that increase opportunity for all their residents. These cities are testing new solutions and measuring what works, rebuilding trust in government by engaging with their residents, and using evidence and data to drive faster progress on their toughest challenges.”
What Works Cities Certification assesses cities based on their data-driven decision-making practices and measures how cities publicly and transparently communicate their use of data and evidence. Over the past year, Baton Rouge has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices, including:
- Putting data-driven decision making at the heart of the City-Parish’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic — from identifying testing locations and setting up one of the nation’s only Community Vaccination Centers to digitizing service delivery and programming that enabled over 1,300 virtual meetings and serving more than 10,000 participants.
- Launching the City-Parish Citizen Data Academy, a three-part virtual training series designed to help residents access and use the various data and tools available through the Open Data BR and EBRGIS platforms. This innovative academy is free and open to all East Baton Rouge Parish residents.
- Continuing to make advancements through the nationally recognized EBRGIS program. The City-Parish’s GIS data platform provides geospatial data that allows anyone to use and learn from maps and apps, download open data, and engage with City-Parish government to help solve issues within their own neighborhood.
- Launching Open Budget BR, a web-based platform that provides detailed, interactive views into the City-Parish’s annual operating budget and expands the public’s access to City-Parish data and information.
- Using a data-driven approach to analyze historic contracting data, identify gaps in contracting with small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses, and prioritize engaging with these companies through contracting on programs like MOVEBR. The City-Parish has also worked to unbundle larger contracts so that these disadvantaged businesses have increased access to a greater portion of projects and contract opportunities.
The 16 new cities that achieved What Works Cities Certification this year include four cities at the gold level (Austin, TX; Chattanooga, TN; Detroit, MI; and Gilbert, AZ) and 12 cities at the silver level: Baton Rouge, LA; Bellevue, WA; Fort Collins, CO; Glendale, AZ; Irving, TX; Little Rock, AR; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Norfolk, VA; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; and Syracuse, NY.
Cities that have achieved certification in previous years include: Arlington, TX (2020 Gold), Boston, MA (2020 Silver), Boulder, CO (2020 Silver), Cambridge, MA (2020 Silver), Charlotte, NC (2020 Silver), Cincinnati, OH (2020 Silver), Kansas City, MO (2020 Gold), Los Angeles, CA (2020 Platinum), Louisville, KY (2020 Platinum), Memphis, TN (2020 Silver), Mesa, AZ (2020 Silver), New Orleans, LA (2020 Silver), Philadelphia, PA (2020 Silver), Phoenix, AZ (2020 Silver), San Diego, CA (2020 Silver), San Francisco, CA (2020 Gold), San Jose, CA (2020 Silver), Scottsdale, AZ (2020 Silver), Seattle, WA (2020 Gold), South Bend, IN (2020 Silver), Topeka, KS (2020 Silver), Tulsa, OK (2020 Silver), and Washington, DC (2020 Gold).
What Works Cities Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee. To evaluate cities, these experts conducted a rigorous validation process of cities' certification assessments and participated in site visits to the highest-performing cities to determine the cities' certification level.
The program has inspired a movement of cities that are doubling down on their commitment to building the most well-managed local governments possible and using certification as a roadmap for doing so. More than 200 cities have completed a certification assessment to have their practices benchmarked against the national standard.
For more information, visit whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification.