Unlocking the Power of City Data: Transforming American Rescue Plan Investments to Improve Residents’ Lives

Unlocking the Power of City Data: Transforming American Rescue Plan Investments to Improve Residents’ Lives

Published: Feb 23, 2024
Publisher: Results for America

Elise Allari

Emily Ferris

Quinn Stevenson

Jen Tolentino

Key Findings
  • Among the 67 city Recovery Plans assessed, Certified cities, on average, scored higher in their use of key data and evidence provisions compared to non-Certified cities, demonstrating the value of their commitment to build their data capacity through the WWC program and advance economic recovery, economic mobility and racial equity.
  • Cities with strong WWC results-driven contracting practices developed Recovery Plans that overall better adhere to key data and evidence practices.
  • Cities that effectively engage residents and local organizations in using and interpreting city data continue to use data to identify and embed equity when investing federal recovery funds.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is the largest one-time federal investment in state and local governments in the last century, providing $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to state, territorial, local and tribal governments. When ARP was launched, the U.S. Department of Treasury released guidance that encouraged investing in key data, evidence and outcomes practices. 

In partnership with Results for America (RFA), Mathematica assessed 200 Recovery Plan Performance Reports (Recovery Plans) from July 2022, including 67 city Recovery Plans, to identify how well state and local governments are using data and evidence in making their investments. In 2021, RFA and Mathematica launched the ARP Data and Evidence Dashboard (ARP Dashboard), which highlights how local governments are investing their ARP funds, including assessing how they are using evidence and data, tracking outcomes, engaging with the public, and ensuring an equitable recovery for their residents. 

Our question was this: Do strong city data foundations lead to good ARP investments? To answer this, Results for America and Mathematica looked to cities that received What Works Cities Certification, which has recognized 57 U.S. cities for robust data practices that make resident lives better. Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Results for America, What Works Cities (WWC) Certification has set the standard of excellence for well-managed, data-driven local government.

City leaders can join the What Works Cities Certification Community to gain access to a  community of data-driven peers, expert coaching and learning opportunities to build their data capacities and make progress towards achieving certification.

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