Scottsdale earns national recognition for positive data use

Pictured are Scottsdale employees and department heads. From left is Cassie Johnson, Adam Samuels, Megan Lynn, Mayor Jim Lane, Brent Stockwell, Cindi Eberhard, Jen Jensen and Brad Hartig. (Submitted photo)

On Wednesday, April 24, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that Scottsdale is one of seven cities to achieve 2019 What Works Cities Certification, a national standard of excellence in city governance.

The certification rates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making.

Scottsdale achieved certification at the silver level, according to a press release. The city was recognized for adopting a business mindset to run a well-managed government, embracing transparency, embedding data in decision-making and several other accomplishments that resulted from those practices.

“The credit goes to the professional staff who work for the city,” said Scottsdale mayor Jim Lane in a prepared statement.

“Our executive leadership are accomplished and highly-regarded professionals who manage all the complexities that come with operating a city like Scottsdale and are committed to making data-driven decisions about services and programs. We strive to provide ‘Simply Better Service for our World Class Community’ and it is wonderful that those efforts have earned this national recognition.”

What Works Cities Certification evaluates cities on factors such as whether they have dedicated staff responsible for helping departments use data to track their progress; whether contracts are awarded based on past performance; meetings are focused on numbers; key datasets are open to the public; and whether there is transparency both in the goals set and the progress toward achieving them.

Cities must demonstrate that they have policies in place to manage the risks associated with sophisticated data practices. The program also requires that cities publicly communicate their use of data best practices and engage community stakeholders in the process.

“Data helps city leaders understand problems and measure success, and it helps citizens hold government accountable for meeting public needs on all the big challenges we face — from promoting health and safety to fighting climate change,” Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City, said in a prepared statement.

“Congratulations to all the cities that earned certification this year. Their efforts are improving lives locally and setting an example that can spread nationally.”

The Certification program launched in April 2017, and U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 and higher are eligible to participate.

Cities are awarded silver, gold, or platinum certification depending on their level of data sophistication. The certification program was developed by a team of experts in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee, which comprises leaders in the field from more than a dozen organizations that support cities.

What Works Cities experts, along with members of the Standard Committee, then join in-person site visits to the highest-performing cities to determine the city’s certification level. The seven 2019 certified cities were identified from over 90 assessments.

To date, a total of 13 cities have achieved Certification: Arlington, Texas (2019 Silver), Boston, Massachusetts (2018 Silver), Kansas City, Missouri (2019 Gold, 2018 Silver), Los Angeles, California (2018 Gold), Louisville, Kentucky (2019 Gold, 2018 Silver), Memphis, Tennessee (2019 Silver), New Orleans, Louisiana (2018 Silver), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2019 Silver), San Diego, California (2018 Silver), San Francisco, California (2018 Silver), Scottsdale, Arizona (2019 Silver), Seattle, Washington (2018 Silver), and Washington, DC (2019 Gold, 2018 Silver).

Scottsdale is the smallest city to be certified to-date.

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