Mayor Rawlings-Blake Releases New Study Naming Baltimore as National Leader in Using Data and Evidence to Improve Community

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Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
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BALTIMORE, Md. (Nov. 13, 2013) — Today, Mayor Rawlings-Blake joined members of her Administration and Results for America representatives to release a new study highlighting Baltimore as one of the nation’s best cities in driving better results for residents through the use of data and evidence. Baltimore is highlighted as a city utilizing best practices for investing limited taxpayer dollars in programs that demonstrate they work, while directing funds away from those that consistently fail to achieve measurable outcomes.

The study, “Geek Cities: How Smarter Use of Data and Evidence Can Improve Lives,” notes Baltimore’s leadership in transforming municipal budgeting.

“Traditional budgeting is easy, but it often produces budgets that protect underperforming services and punish services that deliver results and advance priorities most important to residents,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “In Baltimore, we turned that old model on its head by first seeking to better understand what the needs of our citizens were and then building our budgets to reflect their priorities and achieve those outcomes. Thanks to outcome budgeting, we maintained and even enhanced funding for services that demonstrated effectiveness—even as we grappled with a virtually unprecedented fiscal crisis.”

Based on extensive new research and a compilation of 45 interviews with leaders from America’s most innovative cities, the paper holds up six “Geek Cities” as examples worth emulating. These Geek Cities–Baltimore, Denver, Miami, New York, Providence and San Antonio–are on the forefront of improving outcomes in communities by setting new trends for how data and evidence can be used to increase efficiency, focus on programs that are achieving results and steer resources away from those programs that are not succeeding. The Geek Cities are setting a standard for use of data on issues including education, jobs, youth development, and preventing infant mortality.

On the release of the paper, America Achieves founding partner and leader of the Results for America initiative, Michele Jolin said, “Today, 'geeks' are driving the competitiveness and dynamism of our nation’s economy, and using creativity and data to transform society. The “Geek Cities” highlighted in this report remind us of the extent to which city governments have become the incubators of innovation and the drivers of results in America. While Washington seems to be stuck in unending partisan gridlock, these cities are using evidence and data to change lives and deliver real results for their citizens. Washington should follow the lead set by Baltimore and focus on funding programs that have a proven track record of results – and directing funds away from those that are not successful.”

The Bridgespan Group concludes the paper with directions for city leaders and their federal, state and philanthropic partners on how to improve outcomes based on their observations from the six city examples. For more information on this paper, it can be read in its entirety online.

Bridgespan Group’s Managing Partner Jeff Bradach said, “The case studies presented here demonstrate that this is no longer a do-gooder’s dream, but a real possibility. Cities can work smarter for their residents, and indeed, they must, as they tackle big challenges and opportunities. The six cities in our paper prove that geek is good – that blending rigor and data with a passion for results and change can move the needle on big problems.”

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