There is an emerging attention toward performance in city government. But that means we have to create the tools, culture and human infrastructure necessary to drive that performance. The movement to lay this groundwork got an important boost this week when Bloomberg Philanthropies announced its What Works Cities initiative, an integrated set of reforms that aims to transform the effectiveness of local government.
The central innovation of the foundation's $42 million program is to weave together individual components of high-performance governing into a unified picture of how cities can use data and evidence to govern effectively and responsively. The initiative draws attention to the pillars of what works in cities: a focus on public value, a focus on using data relentlessly, a focus on repurposing money from projects that don't work to those that do. In parallel, the program plans to recognize and quantify the success of those cities that are excelling and provide a roadmap for what other cities can do to succeed.