Pittsburgh Recognized for Exceptional Use of Data and Evidence to Improve Residents' Lives



Pittsburgh Recognized for Exceptional Use of Data and Evidence to Improve Residents’ Lives

Pittsburgh is One of Only 55 Cities in the U.S. to Achieve What Works Cities Certification


PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh is proud to announce that it has achieved What Works Cities Certification in recognition of its exceptional use of data to guide decision-making and improve residents’ lives. What Works Cities Certification - the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance - evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making. What Works Cities Certification, a national Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by Results for America, has awarded Certification to 55 U.S. cities for outstanding data practices since 2017.

“It is a tremendous honor to be among just 55 cities across the country to receive the What Works Cities Certification,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “This certification is an acknowledgment of good governance and great teamwork across multiple departments. Our work is just beginning, and we are excited to continue building towards gold certification in the coming year.” 

What Works Cities Certification assesses cities based on their data-driven decision-making practices, such as whether they are using data to set goals and track progress, allocate funding, evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. The program also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence. Each city that participates in Certification receives a customized city assessment that highlights their unique strengths and opportunities for improvement. What Works Cities partners then provide coaching, training, and technical assistance to help city leaders improve their data and evidence capabilities, embrace new practices aligned to the Certification standard, and drive outcomes for their community.

"Receiving Silver Certification from the Bloomberg What Works Cities program is a meaningful recognition of the hard work many of our colleagues across multiple departments have executed over the past two years," said Director of Innovation and Performance Heidi Norman.  "It is also an announcement to the residents of Pittsburgh that their municipal government cares deeply about the data collected, how it is governed, secured, and shared - all towards twin goals of vastly improved performance and transparency about our operations and services provided to the community. And finally, Silver Certification for Pittsburgh is a beginning; it is the 'starting gun' for us to build upon this foundation and to leverage the resources provided by Bloomberg What Works Cities to go for the gold!"

Over the past year, Pittsburgh has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the city’s use of data include:

  • Pittsburgh’s open data platforms are empowering city planners to create evidence-based neighborhood plans in the Homewood, Manchester-Chateau, and Hazelwood neighborhoods with an eye towards economic development, sustainability, and equity.
  • Since the establishment of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation & Performance in 2014, the city has looked to coordinate with local and regional partners to centralize data, foster collaboration, and share governance best practices
  • 311 data is helping measure how equitably city services are being deployed. We can more accurately and proactively evaluate outcomes for city contracts, setting data from 311 calls against the stated goals and metrics of success for those contracts.


Since the Certification program launched in April 2017, U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 and higher have been eligible to participate. Cities are awarded Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification depending on their level of data sophistication. Fifty-five cities have achieved Certification.


“Cities using data are more resilient and better able to respond in crisis situations and service delivery,” said Lauren Su, Director of What Works Cities Certification. “Pittsburgh has done an outstanding job of using 311 call data to both measure whether city services are being equitably deployed, and to evaluate outcomes for city contracts, ensuring their investments are meeting the needs of residents. This is what excellence in data-driven government looks like.”


Pittsburgh is proud to join an elite group of cities leading a growing movement of data-driven decision-making in jurisdictions around the country. A report released last fall by the Monitor Institute at Deloitte, in collaboration with What Works Cities, detailed the increase in cities using data to drive decision-making and the benefits of this approach for residents. Since 2015, the percentage of cities tracking progress toward key goals has more than doubled (from 30% to 75%), the percentage of cities engaging with residents on a goal and communicating progress has more than tripled (from 19% to 70%), the percentage of cities with a platform and process to release data to the public has more than tripled (from 18% to 67%), and the percentage of cities modifying their programs based on data analytics has more than doubled (from 28% to 61%). These are several of the data practices assessed as part of What Works Cities Certification.


Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee and with support from other What Works Cities partners - The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, and The Behavioral Insights Team. Over 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment, benchmarking their practices against the national standard. 




About What Works Cities:

What Work Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, helps cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives. The initiative’s What Works Cities Certification program is the first-of-its-kind national standard of excellence in city governance that evaluates how well cities are managed and whether cities have the right people, processes, and policies in place to put data and evidence at the center of decision-making. Through the initiative’s expert partners, cities around the country are receiving support, guidance and resources to succeed. For more information, visit



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Maria Montano
Communications Director
Mayor's Office