Inside the Certification: City of Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted on April 12, 2018

In this series, we highlight the inaugural group of nine cities to achieve What Works Cities Certification and the five cities selected for the Certification Honor Roll. As part of being awarded the certification, each city received an ELGL all-in membership.
What Works Cities Certification recognizes and celebrates local governments that are leading the nation in the use of data and evidence to increase government effectiveness and improve services for residents. At #ELGL18, What Works Cities will offer a half day session on how your organization can use data to drive innovation.
Previously, Las Vegas and Topeka shared how they landed on the Certification Honor Roll and San Diego and Washington, DC described how they achieved Silver Level Certification. Simone Brody, the Executive Director of What Works Cities, and Jennifer Park, the Associate Director, discussed What Works Cities Certification on the GovLove podcast.
Brent Stockwell walks us through the Scottsdale’s experience with What Works Cities Certification.

Mt. Rushmore

Government buzzwords

  1. Activate
  2. Utilize
  3. Innovative
  4. World-class


  1. Automated trash collection
  2. Residential fire sprinklers
  3. Grass flood control basins
  4. Natural area open space easements

Office pet peeves

  1. Talking on speakerphone with door open
  2. Leaving lights on when you leave
  3. Smelly food in microwave
  4. Leaving without saying goodbye


  1. Spider Man
  2. LEGO Batman
  3. Thor
  4. Black Widow

Spring break destinations

  1. Scottsdale for San Francisco Giants spring training
  2. Scottsdale to attend the Scottsdale Arts Festival
  3. Scottsdale to attend the Parada del Sol Rodeo
  4. Why leave Scottsdale? It’s already the best place in mid-March!

Q & A

(Complete this sentence) Our city participated in What Works Cities certification because… we wanted to be challenged to make our performance management program even better.
What are three specific ways residents benefit from the city’s use of data?

  • Faster commutes, less red light wait time
  • Faster fire response times
  • Better maintained city buildings due to preventative maintenance

How is the city ensuring that using data improves services across a broad section of the community?
Citywide Open Data Team working to encourage use of data for decision-making. They are hosting  a data day for each department to share their data so other city departments can use information for decision-making. We have open data coordinators in each department conducting data inventories
For those cities considering What Works Cities’ certification, give them three tips for addressing certification requirements.

  • Provide exemplary documentation
  • Have policies and procedures in place to document everything
  • [we didn’t get certified yet so only have two tips!]

How will the city build on the success of the certification? How do you ensure it becomes ingrained in the city’s culture? Specific initiatives?
We reviewed our results with our citywide Performance Management Team and decided on four action steps we could take to improve our results and gain certification. We are creating a performance management policy for council approval and developing an internal regulation.
What’s one question that you’d ask the other cities who achieved certification?
How many full-time staff do you have working lin these areas?
What question(s) should we have asked you? What’s the answer?
Will Scottsdale be a WWC certified city next year? All signs point to yes!

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