Local Government's Use of Evidence in Policymaking
In September 2014, Results for America (RFA) launched a Local Government Fellowship, creating a national network of senior local government leaders from 11 jurisdictions across the country and helping these leaders demonstrate evidence-based policy “wins” within their city halls. As the first cohort of this Fellowship ends, RFA has produced the following report describing the Fellowship program and highlighting the main accomplishments of participating cities.
Local governments spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year to ensure the safety and improve the well-being of their citizens. Yet, without a strong and on-going commitment to 1) evaluate the impact of these investments, and 2) use data and evidence to understand which policies and programs are working and which are not, it is unclear whether public resources are being spent effectively and efficiently. Given constrained public resources and growing needs of urban populations across the nation, local governments must make decisions that are informed by the best evidence and data available.
It is against this backdrop that in September 2014, Results for America launched its inaugural Local Government Fellowship program. The mission was to build and support an influential cohort of key local government leaders who were in a position to drive evidence-based policy change in their municipal governments, and to enlist effective champions for the national movement for governments to invest in what works.
Results for America interviewed more than 25 top local leaders before selecting 11 Local Government Fellows. The selection was based on criteria that included personal commitment to using evidence and data; enthusiasm about being part of a peer network; experience in implementing projects that focused on the use of evidence and data; as well as diversity across geography, city size and political affiliation of the Mayor.
The 11 Fellows represent a diverse cross-section of local government, including: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Louisville, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Salt Lake County, Seattle and Tulsa.i These jurisdictions collectively represent nearly 19 million people (roughly 6 percent of the U.S. population) and almost $110 billion in annual local government spending. By enhancing municipal leadership and supporting individual examples of change in these 11 jurisdictions, RFA’s Local Government Fellowship program advances local public investment in results-driven solutions in order to improve outcomes for youth, families and their communities.