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Memphis Re-certified What Works City Gold

Memphis Re-certified What Works City Gold

MEMPHIS (June 21, 2023) — The City of Memphis received re-certification as a Gold-level What Works City, announced today by Results for America, making Memphis one of just a handful of cities around the globe that have achieved and maintained the highest distinction from Bloomberg Philanthropies for exceptional use of data to inform policy decisions, allocate funding, improve services, evaluate program effectiveness, and engage residents.

What Works Cities Certification sets the standard of excellence for data-informed, well-managed local government. 
“This is an outstanding achievement for our city that demonstrates how data, when used consistently, can lead to successful outcomes that help our residents in meaningful ways,” Strickland said. “We hold regular meetings with all Divisions to go over data and measure progress, ensuring innovation is a key component of public service.”

The re-certification underscores Memphis’ commitment to leveraging data to deliver on community-based needs, as seen at and the data-driven success stories shared there, including:

  • Predicting high utilizing EMS patients for proactive care interventions
  • Reducing the 9-1-1 call answer time by answering 95% of calls within 20 seconds and maintaining that level of service
  • Improving the Solid Waste services pickup predictability, leading to new vendor

Under the Department of Performance Management, which was created in 2016, Memphis has made innovation a top priority of Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration. Among other goals, Strickland made reducing 9-1-1 answer time an immediate priority when he took office in January 2016. He also created the Office of Business Diversity and Compliance in 2016 to lead the city’s efforts to increase spending with minority and women-owned businesses. Other city entities that have used data to track and measure performance include Memphis Public Libraries, Memphis Parks, and Housing and Community Development.

In 2022, What Works Cities Certification released updated criteria for cities to achieve recognition for excellence in using data to improve residents’ lives. The new criteria embed equity priorities and better reflect the evolving best practices of data-informed governance so that cities move beyond achieving only pockets of excellence to achieving citywide scale and maximum resident impact, a goal Memphis has reached with youth participation in Parks and library programming.