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Know Your WWC Criteria: Making Data Publicly Accessible

Blog Post
What Works Cities certification provides a national standard for management of local governments using data and evidence. In this blog series, we highlight WWC certification criteria and what the City of Portland is doing to achieve them.

Data Governance Criterion #1: Maintaining a Detailed and Comprehensive Data Inventory 

Here’s our friendly monthly reminder of What Works Cities’ (WWC) 45 criteria for best practices in data governance, performance analytics, evaluation, stakeholder engagement, and more. This month’s featured criterion examines how cities are set up to have discoverable and accessible public data with Data Governance criterion #1: “Your local government maintains a detailed and comprehensive data inventory that makes its data more discoverable and accessible.”

A blue banner across the top of this infographic reads "Certification Criteria" and shows the What Works Cities and Bloomberg Philanthropies logos. Icons arranged in two rows read "Data Governance," "Evaluations," "Performance & Analytics," "Open Data," "General Management," "Repurposing," "Results-Driven Contracting," and "Stakeholder Engagement."

This Data Governance criterion provides the internal foundation for open data and greater transparency. It encourages cities to develop a documented methodology for establishing and updating a data inventory covering all departments and for publishing it online. A data inventory is like a card catalog for the City’s data. It spells out what data the city has, where it is kept, and how to access it, thereby fostering greater transparency and engagement amongst City staff, partners, and the community.

A data inventory is essential to meaningful collaboration between bureaus in today’s age of information and technology. After all, if City data is shared with the public, it makes sense to share it between different parts of the organization as well.  For example, starting with a data inventory, cities like Jackson, MS and Gilbert, AZ have optimized a performance management program, and made a lot of progress in their open data program, respectively. 

Beyond the benefits of collaboration, transparency, and public engagement, increasing understanding of and access to civic data has led to a diversity of innovations. As these initiatives are institutionalized, they can spark progress both internally and outside governments through new products and the improvement of processes. ​​

So, does your bureau maintain a discoverable and accessible data inventory?

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