Local Government Fellowship Case Studies


Every day local government leaders are making tough decisions on how to best serve their residents. Increasingly, cities and counties are placing data and evidence at the center of their decision-making to achieve the best outcomes with scarce taxpayer resources.

As part of the “Invest in What Works Policy Series,” Results for America is showcasing some of the best examples of strategies by local governments to use data and evidence to drive budget and policy decisions that help address major concerns in their communities.

These case studies highlight some of the work of RFA’s Local Government Fellows, who are developing research partnerships with academic institutions, sharing best practices and demonstration projects, and participating in a national network that is helping to advance data-driven and evidence-based policymaking.


Local Government
Case Studies

Cook County

December 6, 2018

Between 2015 and 2016, Cook County, Illinois experienced a 70% increase in opioid-related deaths, up from 647 deaths to 1,081 deaths. The County also experienced a growing number of gun homicide-related deaths during that same period, up from 525 deaths in 2015 to 805 deaths in 2016, a 50% increase. Law enforcement agencies and public health advocates had been requesting data more frequently from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) to analyze cause of death trends and understand the scope of these crises. Although not often considered a traditional partner in public health prevention, the MEO recognized they had an important role to play in informing and curtailing the growing opioid and gun homicide-related deaths occurring in Cook County and across the country by providing real-time access to quality data on cause of death

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Los Angeles

December 6, 2018

Los Angeles residents consider clean streets and alleys to be among the fundamental responsibilities of their city government. However, in recent years, Los Angeles had not met its residents’ expectations for street and alley cleanliness. The City received growing numbers of complaints from residents concerned about excessive litter, illegal dumping, and other trash, especially in neighborhoods with predominantly low income and minority residents.

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December 6, 2018

In the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma the Municipal Court issues approximately 22,000 extensions to unpaid court fines – called Time Pay Orders – per year. The Time Pay Order system was originally designed to give residents an additional one- to six-month extension to submit their payments for court fees at the conclusion of a criminal case. Despite the extension, over 70% – or 16,000 – of the issued Time to Pay Orders result in a failure-to-pay warrant each year. Failure to pay often results in suspended driver’s licenses, accrual of additional fines, and further involvement in the criminal justice system. In addition, unpaid Time Pay Orders also result in more than $500,000 each year in unpaid fines.


September 26, 2018

Louisville residents living at or below 130% of the federal poverty line rely on the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help cover costly home energy bills each year. However, the local LIHEAP application process was inefficient and time consuming, requiring residents to make multiple in-person visits and wait in long lines to complete their applications. The application process was inefficient for Louisville government staff as well, leaving them too little time to serve all eligible clients and award all available local LIHEAP funds.

Montgomery County 

September 26, 2018

Montgomery County, Maryland has experienced a steady increase in 911 calls for emergency medical services (EMS) in recent years. Among the nearly 84,000 calls to 911 for EMS in Montgomery County in 2013, the 100 most frequent callers were responsible for 3% (over 2,500 calls) of the call load. These residents were usually experiencing non-emergency events that often stemmed from behavioral health issues, substance abuse challenges, chronic illnesses, or a combination of these factors. They also often lacked knowledge of the non-emergency resources available to them.

King County

August 22, 2018

King County created the Best Starts for Kids initiative, which, among other things, introduced an entirely new way for the government to structure contracts and do business with human services providers. The County made their contracting process more accessible to community-based organizations that work with underserved residents. New contracting practices also promoted outcomes-focused, preventive, and early intervention services based on rigorous evidence of impact, while simultaneously allowing the County to test and build evidence for innovative and community-based approaches.


January 5, 2018

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Office of Innovation Delivery and Performance reinstituted and reimagined the city’s performance management system in late 2012. The City placed departmental staff at the center of the effort and focused foremost on how data collection and review could help city staff better deliver services and respond to the needs of residents. This unique approach was in stark contrast to traditional performance management systems, which focus on first serving the needs of the Mayor and government agency leaders.


January 5, 2018

The City of Baltimore developed an advanced outcome budgeting system in 2010 to focus resources on the most effective and promising services and programs to meet the City’s priority needs, based on performance data and evidence of impact.

New Orleans

January 5, 2018

The New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Performance and Accountability used advanced analytics, open source software, and a partnership with Louisiana State University (LSU) students to integrate the City’s administrative data with the operational expertise of New Orleans EMS staff to decrease overall EMS response times and provide equitable service to all neighborhoods.


January 5, 2018

In April 2016, the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office jointly created a collaborative team called the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative with academic researchers. First, Philadelphia city staff identify enrollment and usage challenges within city programs and services. Then, the team connects department staff with suitable academic research partners to identify key service touch points and develop behavioral science-based evaluations. Finally, the evaluation findings help determine how to engage city residents in these programs and services more effectively and efficiently.