“How Local Leaders Are Improving Outcomes by Learning from Each Other”
By Maia Jachimowicz
In 2014, we had an idea: By bringing together some of the most innovative and results-driven senior government officials from cities and counties across the country — to share ideas and best practices — could we accelerate their use of data and evidence to get better outcomes for the residents they serve?
Three years after launching Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship program, we are getting our answer.
Cities and counties involved in the fellowship are pioneering a wide range of policies, programs, and demonstration projects that focus on the use of research and evidence to improve results. Our 15 Local Government Fellows have developed and are now leading research partnerships examining the impact of policy priorities. They are launching or reforming offices of data, innovation, performance and research in local government. They are spearheading dozens of new data-driven projects such as Pay for Success projects in Salt Lake County (UT) and King County (WA), a Data Science Federation in Los Angeles, Philadelphia’s Behavioral Science Initiative, NOLAlytics’ many analytics projects, Montgomery County’s (MD) poverty story map and New York City’s Workforce Common Metrics — to name just a few.
These cities and counties represent a combined total of 28 million people and are responsible for $148 billion in local government spending. Their innovative evidence-based policies are not just having a local impact — they are serving as a model for similar reforms nationwide.
Every quarter, we gather our fellows together to share what we’ve learned, to hear about the latest advances in evidence-based policymaking, to support each other’s work, and to strengthen this network of local government champions who are at the forefront of delivering better results for residents.
At our latest gathering — a strategic-thinking convening in Seattle and King County, from July 12–14, 2017 — we asked our Local Government Fellows how the fellowship has helped them better serve the people in their jurisdictions. Here is some of what we learned:
Carrie S. Cihak, Director of Policy, King County, WA
“Our participation in Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship has brought focus to our evidence-based policymaking work and pushed it forward in very powerful ways. Learning from peer governments has expanded our horizons and given me insight into approaches such as behavioral economics, human-centered design, and learning agendas that I would not have experienced or considered otherwise. Results for America has connected me to resources that are bringing real value to our community such as J-PAL North America, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, and the Lab for Economic Opportunities at Notre Dame that I would not have otherwise known about or been able to draw upon.’’
Alexandra Ensign, Special Assistant to the President, Cook County, IL
“From the most recent Local Government Fellowship convening, I gained an understanding around translating a broad, difficult strategic plan (like that around equity and social justice), into small, concrete operations and project goals. It was especially valuable to hear about the difficulties of Seattle and King County related to culture change and ways in which these challenges were addressed. I will definitely bring back this conversation to Cook County’s performance management team to talk about ways we can improve our process and re-align some nitpicky performance metrics with broad policy priorities.’’
Anjali Chainani, Director of Policy City of Philadelphia, PA
“One of the most important components of the Fellowship that I will bring back to Philadelphia is the numerous ways to lift up the use of data and evidence across government — through processes like generating visual management practices, advocating for evidence-based policies and executive orders, creating cross-departmental teams to serve as champions, ensuring data integration, or strengthening external partnerships to evaluate a program. Results for America and the Local Government Fellowship help bring these various pathways to my team and it has transformed the way we approach our work.’’
Dave Gottesman, CountyStat Manager, Montgomery County, MD
“I look forward to taking King County’s concept and practice of ‘rounding’ and ‘huddling’ and their very public and visible performance management boards back to Montgomery County, MD in order to build out our performance management work. I like the idea of operational staff looking at, using, and discussing data on a consistent basis, and I’d like to work on creating a similar system, where possible.’’
Kate Joncas, Deputy Mayor for Operations, City of Seattle, WA
“Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship has helped to start to change the culture of government by building in the assumption that data is always needed to make an informed decision.’’
Matt Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) and the Senior Advisor for Service Innovation in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations, City of New York, NY
“I will be drawing from the equity and social justice plan and process of Seattle and King County, and aiming to implement similar ideas in New York City. This is a central priority and the cross-city relationship in Seattle and King County was helpful to see.’’
Andrew Kleine, Budget Director, City of Baltimore, MD
“Results for America’s connections to research organizations through the research partnerships portion of the Local Government Fellowship has really helped Baltimore. We are now at different points toward rigorous evaluations of five city programs, and what we learn from these evaluations will improve Baltimore’s recycling rate, homelessness strategy, workforce development, and maternal and child health efforts.’’
Matt Malament, Director of Budget, Innovation and Performance, City of Atlanta, GA
“I appreciated many of the performance principles and tactics that we saw in King County, including visual management, lean processes, and Kanban boards. I also very much liked the idea of doing standing performance meetings. It helps to keep the conversation focused!’’
Elizabeth Mitchell, Director of Performance & Innovation, Salt Lake County, UT
“Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship provides the space for the celebration of successes, empathy and troubleshooting for failures, and the cross-pollination of data- and evidence-based innovations that can survive and thrive in local contexts — leading to the truly impactful change that communities need and deserve from government.’’
Gilbert Montaño, Chief of Staff, City of Albuquerque, NM
“This Fellowship has significantly helped and supported the City of Albuquerque in many different ways. Specifically it has allowed our leadership team to be agile and aggressive in our use of data. When cities are facing a crime uptick often finger pointing begins. This Fellowship has provided us the opportunity to work with other academic institutions to provide objective data and data analysis that can help pinpoint what the main issues and causes of our crime increase can be attributed to. Thus, enabling us to strategically implement scarce resources according to what our research has shown; in our case it is repeat offenders.’’
Daro Mott, Chief of Performance Improvement, City of Louisville, KY
“Louisville just hired a Chief Equity Officer and I am looking forward to taking the learnings from the most recent convening to make us the best of the best by cascading the right mindsets, plans, processes, and measures about equity into the work we do on a daily basis.’’
Jennifer Reed, Chief Performance Officer, City of Washington, DC
“Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship has been incredibly valuable for me. When I joined, I was just starting in my role and building a new office that hadn’t existed before. To be able to learn from the ‘best of the best’ helped me shape my office, learn about mistakes, share my own, and get advice on new tools we are working to deploy. There is no blueprint for performance, data and evidence in local government (yet!) but I feel that this group is getting closer to developing that.’’
Miguel Sangalang, Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, City of Los Angeles, CA
“My participation in Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship has pushed me to seek out new sources of information in order to help guide city management. I have been able to connect staff to new resources and training, which has augmented Los Angeles’ capability to use data and evidence on a daily basis.’’
Oliver Wise, Director of the Office of Performance and Accountability, City of New Orleans, LA
“Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship has helped to grow New Orleans’ national recognition for this work. Additionally, I have gained a better understanding of best practices in the data and evidence space. This opportunity has also allowed me to develop strong relationships with colleagues fighting the good fight and leave each convening feeling inspired and energized around the importance of this work.’’
To learn more about the data-driven and evidence-based outcomes of the first cohort of Results for America Local Government Fellows, read the 2016 report, Local Governments’ Use of Evidence in Policymaking.
Maia Jachimowicz is the Vice President for Evidence-Based Policy Implementation for Results for America. She previously served as Director of Policy in the Office of the Mayor for the City of Philadelphia.