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Topeka achieves Silver level What Works Cities Certification

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Topeka Water Tower(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 3:02 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The City of Topeka has earned a Silver level What Works Cities Certification for 2021.

The City of Topeka says that it is proud to have been recognized again for earning the 2021 What Works Cities Certification, a national standard of excellence in data-driven governance. It said the certification evaluates how well it is managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in decision-making.

According to the City, it has been certified at the silver level as part of WWC’s Certification program. It said What Works Cities is a national effort launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help cities use data and evidence more effectively to tackle their most urgent issues.

“I’m proud of our city for being the only city in Kansas to be What Works Cities certified,” said Mayor Michelle De La Isla. “The hard work and dedication by staff have paid off and you can see it in every aspect from the city from the quality of our streets improving to the transparency of our processes.”

The City said the certification assesses cities based on data-driven decision-making practices, like whether they use data to set goals and track progress, allocate funds, evaluate the effectiveness of programs and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. It said the program also measures if cities are publicly transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence.

Over the past year, the City said it has shown measurable progress on foundational data practices. It said some notable examples of its use of data include the following:

  • Performance Management
  • Grant Applications
  • Transparency
  • Street improvements through Pavement Condition Index data collection

According to the City, 16 new cities achieved certification this year, which include four cities at the Gold level and 12 cities at the Silver level. Additionally, it said three cities that were previously certified advanced to the next level of certification, including Topeka, and four cities renewed their certification.

“City leaders are using data to understand and support the needs of residents like never before,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America, the lead partner in the What Works Cities initiative. “Throughout the COVID crisis and a historic reckoning with racial injustice, mayors have relied on data to identify and narrow racial gaps and to make smarter investments that increase opportunity for all their residents. These cities are testing new solutions and measuring what works, rebuilding trust in government by engaging with their residents, and using evidence and data to drive faster progress on their toughest challenges.”

“Since Certification was first introduced, cities have made tremendous progress in their ability to build the data capacity and skills needed to drive their decision-making with data and evidence,” said Jennifer Park, founding director of What Works Cities Certification. “This year, cities used data and evidence to guide their response to COVID, address budget shortfalls, reimagine public safety, advance equity, and much more. Data wasn’t just a valuable tool for city leaders – it was a necessity.”

The City said the certification was developed by a team of experts at Results for America in cooperation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee. To evaluate cities, it said the experts conducted rigorous validation processes for assessments and participated in site visits to the highest-performing cities to decide their certification levels.

According to Topeka, the program has inspired a movement of cities doubling down on commitments to build the most well-managed local governments possible and using certification as a roadmap for doing so. It said over 200 cities have completed the assessment to have their practices benchmarked against the national standard. It said the assessment is the first step to getting exclusive support to continue to build a more effective local government.

To learn more about how to participate in the program, click HERE.

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