Boston Recognized by Bloomberg Philanthropies for Excellence in Government Services


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that in recognition of Boston’s commitment to the use of data and analytics to improve residents’ quality of life, Boston has achieved a “Silver” Certification from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “What Works Cities.”

Boston was one of only nine cities to receive certification among the more than 200 who applied, making Boston a national leader in the use of evidence and analytics to increase government effectiveness. Mayor Walsh and Boston received this certification during the 86th Winter Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) in Washington, D.C.

“In Boston, we work every day to ensure our residents receive the best, most helpful City services — and by using data and analytics, we’re able to most effectively deliver these services,” said Mayor Walsh. “Boston is guided by big ideas and hard work, and I’m proud our City has been recognized nationally for our work to improve residents’ lives, whether our help is as simple as making it easier to get a moving permit, or as meaningful as ending chronic veterans’ homelessness.”

Boston was selected in March 2016 as one of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “What Works Cities,” and then applied to the Certification program when it launched in March 2017.

“We are honored to be working with Mayor Martin Walsh and the City of Boston, which well deserves Certification for its achievements,” said Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities. “Boston’s work with data and analytics is inculcated throughout city government, where programs and policies are focused on improving residents’ lives as a regular part of governing.”

Ongoing technical assistance from What Works Cities and their partners, including the Government Performance Lab, helped Boston attain Certification by adopting contracting and procurement best practices across several departments:

  • The Hubway bike share system is expanding by 50 percent without spending additional public dollars, while also improving user experience and increasing access to the bike share system for low-income and minority communities;
  • The City is committed to creating equal opportunities for businesses of all kinds in Boston, including launch of a Small Business Center;
  • The $6 million spent each year through asphalt resurfacing contracts is now tied to performance; through increased data-sharing and performance-based payments, the City will make sure work is done on time, safely, with minimal disruption to residents, and using high-quality materials. The Public Works Department is now expanding this results-driven contracting approach to all capital programs.

Boston’s silver Certification also recognizes other work underway across the City, including:

  • Ending chronic homelessness by 2018 with innovative new software for Boston’s Way Home;
  • Working to create 53,000 new units of housing at a variety of income levels, to ensure growth and prosperity in every corner of Boston;
  • Launching Analyze Boston to create more transparency around City data;
  • Using data for everything from improving EMS response times to tackling double-parking;
  • Making data-driven investments through the Fiscal Year 2018 budget;
  • Testing different communication methods in order to increase resident engagement through:

o             Targeted emails to new residents about information like parking permits, voter registration, and trash day, resulting in two times the typical level of engagement;

o             Evaluated different approaches to social media posts, including a “Now Hiring” campaign that resulted in a 77 percent jump in traffic to the Career Center website.

The Certification process also provides Boston with a blueprint for ongoing improvement. Through “What Works Cities,” Boston will share insights with a community of peers, helping cities lead the way on big challenges ranging from equity to climate change.

This certification builds on Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s first citywide plan in 50 years. Imagine Boston 2030 will guide growth to support Boston’s dynamic economy and expand opportunity for all residents. The plan prioritizes inclusionary growth and puts forth a comprehensive vision to boost quality of life, equity and resilience in every neighborhood across the City. Shaped by the input of 15,000 residents who contributed their thoughts to the plan, Imagine Boston 2030 identifies five action areas to guide Boston’s growth, enhancement and preservation, and is paired with a set of metrics that will evaluate progress and successes.

In addition to Imagine Boston, the Walsh Administration also launched CityScore in 2016, a metrics driven program and first-of-its kind tool created by the City of Boston to provide Mayor Walsh, city staff and residents a way to understand the overall health of Boston by scoring the city’s performance on individual metrics and delivering a single, indicative number to see how operations are going on a day-to-day basis. CityScore continues to provide real-time data on how city services are operating, and has lead to increased investments and improved services, including improving EMS response times.

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