Inside the Certification: City of Las Vegas, Nevada

Posted on March 19, 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 certificatio, 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.

Last week, we heard about the City of Topeka, Kansas’ experience with What Works Cities Certification. This time, we hear from Victoria Carreón about how Las Vegas achieved recognition on the Certification Honor Roll.

Mt. Rushmore

Government buzzwords

  1. Core Purpose: Building Community to Make Life Better
  2. Core Values: Kind, Committed, Smart
  3. Business Definition: We run the city.
  4. Strategic Anchors: Iconic, Sustainable, Service Value


  1. The city created the Innovation District (including Connected Corridor and autonomous shuttle).
  2. The city created the Youth Development and Social Innovation Department to support the continuum of education from pre-k through workforce development.
  3. All city facilities and street lights are now run on 100% renewable energy.
  4. The city engaged in a public private partnership to create a Healing Garden in response to October 1, 2017 shooting.

Office pet peeves

  1. Not enough automated data collection systems
  2. Less engaged departments/employees
  3. Not enough hours in the day


  1. Tony Hsieh (creator of Downtown Project)
  2. Jay Pleggenkuhle and Daniel Perez (Creators of the Healing Garden)
  3. Mayors Oscar Goodman and Carolyn Goodman

Spring break destinations

  1. Mob Museum
  2. Neon Museum
  3. Fremont Street Experience/ Fremont East Entertainment District
  4. Floyd Lamb Park

Q & A

(Complete this sentence) Our city participated in What Works Cities certification because…
We want to demonstrate that we are committed to using data to drive decision-making.
What are three specific ways residents benefit from the city’s use of data?

  • The city uses community survey data to set priorities and drive budget decisions.
  • The city uses a wide array of data to target neighborhoods most in need, including demographics, police calls for service, graffiti calls for service, and code enforcement violations.
  • The city uses data to align the right type of response with the need for fire and medical calls for service.

How is the city ensuring that using data improves services across a broad section of the community?

  • The city measures satisfaction of city services and disaggregates results by ward to identify geographic areas where the quality of services needs to be improved.
  • Each city department has created a key performance indicator and several supporting measures. These measures are tracked on the Results Vegas website and can be disaggregated by ward.

For those cities considering What Works Cities’ certification, give them three tips for addressing certification requirements.

  • Start with a pilot project.
  • Be committed to systemic change.
  • Engage in a cycle of continuous improvement.

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 have built performance management into our regular city processes, which has helped ingrain it into the city’s culture. The City Council sets priorities, then departments create measures to evaluate the success of efforts to address these priorities. These goals are included in annual Strategic Business Plans and are tracked on the Results Vegas website. The City Manager’s Executive Team conducts a Results Vegas meeting each month on a different theme to discuss progress towards the goals.
What’s one question that you’d ask the other cities who achieved certification?
How have you empowered city departments to analyze their own data and use it for daily decision-making?
What question(s) should we have asked you? What’s the answer?
Question: What has been the most rewarding thing about creating a data-driven culture?
Answer: Bringing city departments together to discuss how they can work collaboratively to achieve goals around a common theme has really helped to break down silos, open lines of communication, and develop more integrative and collaborative approaches to solving the city’s most challenging problems.

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