The Buzz

Independence, Mo., part of Bloomberg initiative


City leaders in Independence, Mo. think they can do a better job if they understand the numbers.

Thursday morning, Mayor Eileen Weir said her city had been picked to participate in What Works Cities, a program funded by a charity associated with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As part of the program, Bloomberg Philanthropies has been sending experts to Independence to study its data-gathering procedures and goal-setting efforts. The 18-month program will help the city improve its use of data to more fully address problems — and to be more transparent with citizens.

It’s like Moneyball for cities.

“Utilizing technology to enhance communication with citizens and improve operational efficiency is a top priority for the City Council,” Weir said in a statement.

Kansas City, Mo. is already a part of the program. Nineteen other communities, including Denver, Las Vegas, and San Francisco are taking part in What Works Cities, a $42 million project pushed by Bloomberg.

The former mayor in America’s biggest city is said to be frustrated with the lack of data-driven decision making in local politics. “Data is a tool that every city can use to improve public services,” his statement said.

Independence will establish a website that will include a series of metrics on city performance — building permits issued, for example, or inspections conducted within a certain time-frame. Those results will be compared with city-establish goals.

Weir says city officials will then use that information to make better decisions on resource allocation.