This report identifies the challenges and opportunities for closing the gap between cities' desire to use data in decision making and actual ability to do so. The report finds that city leaders nationwide want to use data, evidence and evaluation to address challenges such as safety, economic development, and affordable housing, however many lack the resources, tools and expertise to turn their data into solutions. Findings were based on an analysis from The Bridgespan Group of detailed conversations with 39 cities visited by What Works Cities and supported by applications submitted by 115 cities, which represents 40 percent of mid-sized cities in the United States.
The analysis found that Mayors are eager to use data and evidence in decision making, but are hindered by a huge gap in know-how. Findings show that very few City Halls have structures in place to analyze and act on the information they have in ways that can help them to transform local government, for example:
* Public Engagement: 81% of cities have engaged the public on a strategic goal, but just 19% publicly communicate their progress on meeting that goal.
* Releasing Data: 72% have invested in a tool or platform to release data to the public, but only 18% have an established process for regularly releasing data publicly.
* Performance Management: 64% of cities have a performance management program to track progress toward key goals, while 30% have a process in place for analyzing and following up on the information.
* Taking Action: 70% are committed to using data and evidence to make decisions, but just 28% modify existing programs based on the results of evaluations.
Although the report relies on data obtained by applicant cities, and not cities selected at random, it provides a meaningful representation of the state of practice in mid-sized cities. The report's findings indicate that assisting cities in developing these tools and expertise could unlock their potential to innovate, enhance decision-making and improve residents' lives.