City News

City Manager's Office - September 27, 2017

Winston-Salem has been accepted into the What Works Cities project, an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies to help 100 mid-sized American cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making and engage residents.

The initiative will focus on two areas:

  • Developing an open data policy for Winston-Salem to promote transparency and accountability in government by making data readily available and easy to understand; and
  • Developing a framework for using data to make decisions, manage performance and align the city budget with city priorities.

What Works Cities graphicCity officials plan to apply what they learn to all aspects of city government in general, and in particular to the six focus areas in the strategic plan the City Council adopted in May. As an initial step, they will target the city's strategic focus area of fostering livable neighborhoods. For example, better use of data could help the city better direct resources to address blight, improve code enforcement and allocate recreation resources.

Under the initiative, the city will engage in an intensive four-month program under the guidance of the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University. At no cost to the city, these organizations will provide experts and technical assistance.

Before being accepted into the program, city officials filled out an in-depth survey, after which a representative of What Works Cities made a site visit to evaluate the city’s current use of data and its capacity to participate in the initiative.

Mayor Allen Joines said that being accepted into What Works Cities is a feather in the city's cap that will benefit all city residents. "I'm excited about the process we are about to undergo. Out of this we will learn how to get better at using data to ensure that our taxpayers' dollars are most effectively used in accomplishing the goals we have set for our community."

The overall What Works Cities initiative is coordinated by Results for America, an organization dedicated to helping decision-makers at all levels of government use evidence and data to meet challenges and make "investing in what works" the norm when allocating public dollars, said Simone Brody, the executive director of What Works Cities. "Data is one of the best resources at cities' disposal for effectively solving challenges and driving progress," Brody said. "We’re supporting city leaders to maximize the use of their data to make more informed decisions, develop stronger programs and services and better serve their communities."

The Sunlight Foundation will take the lead in helping the city develop an open data policy. The foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for transparency and accountability in government at all levels.

The Center for Government Excellence will work with the city to enhance its ability to use data for performance management. The center helps governments improve their ability to make decisions rooted in evidence, open accountability and citizen engagement.

For more information about the What Works Cities initiative, go to WhatWorksCities.org.

View city strategic plan, as linked to from What Works Cities site
More on new additions to What Works Cities

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