What Works Cities

Topeka Selected to Join National What Works Cities Initiative

To check out our existing efforts in open data, visit

Innovative Program Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies Supports Cities’ Use of Data and Evidence to Make Government More Effective and Improve Lives

TOPEKA, KANSAS – [June 13, 2016] – The City of Topeka enthusiastically announces its selection as one of 12 new cities to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’
What Work Cities initiative – one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. Launched in April 2015, the initiative is now providing support to 39 cities in 25 states and will work with up to 100 mid-sized cities on a rolling basis through 2018.

“This is a proud day for all Topekans, as our City becomes among the first in the state of Kansas to be selected by the What Works Cities initiative,” said Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast. “This selection is an endorsement of the City’s existing efforts to track, use and publish data, and it is a validation of the City’s commitment to continue to pioneer and expand its goal of becoming a more open and accessible government.”

Topeka is one of the newest cities to join a rapidly growing movement among City Halls across the country, the leaders of which are making a public commitment to enhancing the use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making and engage residents. The cities of Baltimore, Md.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Cape Coral, Fla.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Greensboro, N.C.; Gresham, Ore.; Kansas City, Kan.; Naperville, Ill.; Providence, R.I.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Wichita, Kan., were also selected to join the initiative today.

With its participation in What Works Cities, Topeka has joined leading cities across the United States who are focused on making better use of data – one of the best opportunities cities have to solve problems and deliver better results for their citizens," said Simone Brody, executive director of What Works Cities. "We are very excited to work with Topeka as the city advances its commitment to using data and evidence to improve people's lives."

What Works Cities collaborates with participating municipalities to review their current use of data and evidence, understand where they are utilizing best practices and identify areas for growth. Topeka will work with the What Works Cities expert partners to expand the City’s use of data and evidence to achieve two goals:

  • Open Data: Topeka will establish and improve open data practices in order to make the City’s data more accessible to city managers and the public, engage residents around government priorities and services and increase transparency and accountability. Topeka will become established as a leader in using open data to engage the public and track progress on goals and other initiatives. It will codify and standardize open data processes; share data openly with residents and internally; regularly collect and publish data; and make decisions based on such data. The City will work with the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University and the Sunlight Foundation.
  • Performance Management: Topeka will establish and improve performance management programs to set, track and share progress toward priority goals, strengthen accountability and achieve better results. The City will launch a performance management program that uses data and evidence to improve day-to-day operations and departmental decision making and create a plan to share the City’s progress toward these goals with residents. Topeka will partner with the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University.

These goals align with the City’s overriding commitments to safe and secure communities; thriving, livable neighborhoods; organizational excellence; stewardship of City assets; commitment to customer service; and fiscal health and sustainable growth. There is no cost to the City for participation in this initiative.

“One of the greatest challenges today for government, at all levels, is instilling trust in the citizens we serve,” said Topeka City Manager Jim Colson. “One of the best ways to establish that trust is by providing easy and intuitive access to information. Our partners within the What Works Cities collaboration will help us leap forward on our goals to improve data maintenance and publication and, ultimately, to improve public trust and engagement. These efforts will become tools the elected governing body members and the public can use to have confidence in the information we share and the decisions we make, both from City Hall and in Council Chambers. Stay tuned, residents of Topeka. You will be a big part of this, too.”

The consortium of leading organizations that has been assembled by Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide a program of expert support includes the Behavioral Insights Team, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, Results for America and the Sunlight Foundation.

The new cities join the following cities as What Works cities: Anchorage, Alaska; Bellevue, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Denton, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Independence, Missouri; Jackson, Mississippi; Kansas City, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; Lexington, Kentucky; Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Mesa, Arizona; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; Raleigh, North Carolina; Saint Paul, Minnesota; San Francisco, California; San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; Tacoma, Washington; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Victorville, California, and Waco, Texas.

To receive updates on the What Works Cities initiative, please visit