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Tempe selected for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative to make city services even better

Post Date:02/09/2017 7:21 PM

Tempe, AZ – The City of Tempe has been chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative to receive expert assistance that will improve service to community members.

Through the partnership, What Works Cities will help Tempe with three specific aims: to become even more transparent and effective through maximizing the use and availability of open data; to become even more efficient through better goal-setting and progress-tracking; and to become a healthier workforce through a refreshed wellness program.

What Works Cities is a combined effort of five world-class partner organizations providing free expert technical assistance to help cities focus intensively on solutions in specific areas. Tempe’s partners will include professionals at the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University, the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Sunlight Foundation.

Tempe is one of 62 mid-sized cities now partnering with What Works Cities nationally. Locally, the cities of Mesa and Scottsdale were selected in 2015 and 2016, respectively. What Works Cities, launched in April 2015, is one of the largest-ever national philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector.

“City leaders around the nation are using data to make better decisions, engage their residents and hold themselves accountable,” said James Anderson, the head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program. “We have an outstanding and diverse group of cities participating in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative, and we look forward to welcoming more to the program in the year ahead.”

All together, the 62 What Works cities come from 34 states and represent more than 20 million residents. The initiative will partner with 100 cities on a rolling basis through 2018.

Mayor Mark Mitchell said that Tempe residents will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the assistance provided by What Works Cities.

“With the City of Tempe’s selection, we are in very good company among cities nationally and in very good hands with What Works Cities,” Mitchell said. “This assistance is invaluable to what we are trying to accomplish in becoming an even more transparent, even more focused organization for the benefit of our residents.”

Broadening public access to open data
Tempe is working toward improving the way community members can access data from the city website. The aim is for that access to be quick and easy, providing information for residents’ use in informing neighborhood discussions, assisting business decisions and creating mobile or online applications of their own.

As a first step in infusing open data throughout Tempe’s website, GovEx and the Sunlight Foundation will work with the Tempe Police Department to build police data sets to be placed online. The data sets involve crime and use of force. In addition, the partners will develop an open data policy and clarify the process for releasing data publicly. Members of the public will be invited to review and comment on a draft policy.

Through this first open data project, the goal is for Tempe to determine how it will replicate the process in the future for other data in various areas of city operations. Ultimately, the goal is to help make data more accessible and to engage residents around city priorities and services.

Setting and tracking performance goals citywide
What Works Cities will also help Tempe build on progress in performance management by determining how goals are set and measured, as well as increasing the transparency and availability of the city’s performance analytics to the public. In 2015, the Tempe City Council set five strategic priorities to guide policy and staff work around providing services:

• Ensuring a safe and secure community through a commitment to public safety and justice;
• Developing and maintaining a strong community connection by emphasizing the importance of open government, customer service and communication with community members;
• Enhancing the quality of life for all Tempe residents and workers through investment in neighborhoods, parks, the arts, human services, and city amenities, with an emphasis on equity and diversity;
• Implementing sustainable growth and development strategies, including improving Tempe’s public transit system to meet future needs, by actively seeking innovative technologies and leading the way in creating a more sustainable community; and
• Maintaining long-term financial sustainability and vitality by focusing on economic development, business retention and generating employment to create a robust and diverse economic base.

Since then, the city’s Office of Strategic Management and Diversity has taken charge of working with city departments to identify and report on activities that align with the strategic priorities.

The ultimate goal of the enhanced efforts is to track and share progress with the community so as to strengthen accountability and achieve better results.

About the What Works Cities initiative
With support from What Works Cities’ expert partners, participating cities are identifying more effective ways to evaluate programs and improve performance; best use resources to serve their communities; and address a range of social challenges – from poverty and inequality to public safety. Another key benefit is joining What Works Cities’ growing national network of local leaders and global experts actively sharing best practices for outcomes-focused government.

In addition to GovEx, the Government Performance Lab, and the Sunlight Foundation, the consortium of leading organizations assembled by Bloomberg Philanthropies and delivering a program of support to cities includes the Behavioral Insights Team and Results for America.

Tempe joins the following 61 cities partnering with What Works Cities: Albuquerque, NM; Anchorage, AK; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL; Boise, ID; Boulder, CO; Buffalo, NY; Bellevue, WA; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; Cape Coral, FL; Chattanooga, TN; Charlotte, NC; Denton, TX; Denver, CO; Des Moines, IA; Downey, CA; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Fort Worth, TX; Greensboro, NC; Gresham, OR; Hartford, CT; Independence, MO; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, KS; Kansas City, MO; Knoxville, TN; Laredo, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; Little Rock, AR; Louisville, KY; Madison, WI; Mesa, AZ; Milwaukee, WI; Naperville, IL; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; Olathe, KS; Portland, OR; Providence, RI; Raleigh, NC; Riverside, CA; Salinas, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Scottsdale, AZ; Saint Paul, MN; South Bend, IN; Syracuse, NY; Tacoma, WA; Topeka, KS; Tulsa, OK, Victorville, CA; Virginia Beach, VA; Waco, TX; West Palm Beach, FL; and Wichita, KS.

To receive updates on the What Works Cities initiative, visit www.whatworkscities.org.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org.

City of Tempe, Nikki Ripley, 480-313-8850, nikki_ripley@tempe.gov
What Works Cities, Sharman Stein, 646-854-5420, sharman@results4america.org
What Works Cities, Kristin Taylor, 646-854-5572, kristin@results4america.org

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