Kansas City Selected as One of First Cities to Participate In Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ‘What Works Cities’ Initiative

August 5, 2015 - KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
City government uses data and evidence to advance strategic goals

Kansas City’s leadership as a data-driven, results-oriented city received a major boost today as Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that the city was selected as one of the first in the nation to participate in What Works Cities, a new $42-million initiative to help communities nationwide enhance use of data and evidence to improve the lives of residents.

“Kansas City is and wants to continue to be a national leader in the movement for municipal governance transparency and accountability,” Mayor Sly James said. “KC Stat, our Digital Roadmap and other initiatives have laid a firm foundation, and this selection will keep us ahead as a technologically advanced community.”

Under the initiative, Kansas City will receive expert on-the-ground support and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to make local government more effective.

“Making better use of data is one of the best opportunities cities have to solve problems and deliver better results for their citizens,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “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.”

In many respects, Kansas City is a national leader by virtue of several programs, including its Open Data Portal, Digital Roadmap and KC Stat, among others.

One way Kansas City measures its data-driven, results-oriented management is an annual citizen satisfaction survey, according to Julie Steenson from the city’s Office of Performance Management.

For example, citizens replying to the independently conducted scientific survey say their satisfaction with Kansas City as a place to live has increased 10 percent over the past four years, exceeding the national benchmark for cities greater than 250,000 residents.

Six of 10 respondents say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of city-provided services, also exceeding the national average. Overall image of the city rose from 45 percent satisfied to 63 percent satisfied in fiscal year 2012, Steenson said.

“We mine a tremendous amount of information from the full survey results to identify adjustments to operational budgets and to the city’s five-year plan,” Steenson said. “Best of all, any business, organization or citizen can review city data and use it to develop ideas, programs or projects, meaning the entire city can become a better place to live, work and play.”

The What Works Cities initiative will provide additional resources to Kansas City as city departments continue to strive to exceed citizen expectations.

The What Works Cities initiative capitalizes on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ belief in the importance of data and evidence to improve people’s lives and make government more effective. Bloomberg Philanthropies uses data to identify some of the world’s most pressing problems, implement solutions, and monitor their progress.

The consortium of leading organizations assembled by Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide a program of support includes Results for America; the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University; the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School;   Sunlight Foundation; and The Behavioral Insights Team.

Partners will inspire, challenge and support cities to:

  • Create sustainable open data programs and policies that deliver results, increase resident engagement and promote transparency;

  • Better incorporate data into budget, operational and policy decision making;

  • Conduct low-cost rapid evaluations that allow cities to continually improve programs; and/ or

  • Focus funding on effective approaches that deliver results for citizens.

In addition to Kansas City, the other inaugural cities selected to participate are Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; Louisville, Kentucky; Mesa, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; Seattle, Washington; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Since the launch of the What Works Cities initiative in April 2015, mayors from every region of the country have expressed their desire for assistance to address local challenges using data and evidence and within the first six weeks alone, 112 U.S. cities across 41 states applied.

One hundred cities will be admitted to the program on a rolling basis through 2017, adding momentum to the national movement among cities to use data and evidence to improve the delivery of government services and advance cities’ strategic goals.

Contact: Michael Grimaldi: 816-513-6579 or cell: 816-945-2902