What Works Cities Certification


Certification helps cities benchmark their progress and develop a roadmap for using data and evidence to deliver results for residents. By recognizing local governments excelling in this work, the program provides models others can learn from. Completing a Certification assessment is the entry point to What Works Cities and accessing the range of support our partners offer. The program is open to any city with a population of 30,000 or more.

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Learn about the inaugural group of cities to achieve Certification.

Five cities were also selected for the Certification Honor Roll. They are up-and-coming leaders in data-driven governance and are on the path to Certification.

  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • South Bend, Indiana
  • Topeka, Kansas


Certification sets a standard of excellence through criteria that outline the people, processes, and policies that are foundational to a well-managed city. View the 2018 Certification criteria here. (A PDF version can be found here.)

A team from Results for America, along with experts on the Certification Standard Committee, conducts an assessment in which local governments earn a point for each criterion they satisfy. If the total number of points earned is high enough, a local government can achieve one of three tiers of Certification: silver, gold, or platinum. All local governments that undergo the assessment better understand their strengths and weaknesses and receive support to drive stronger outcomes for their community.

Local governments are GOOD at understanding data, tracking progress, and using data and evidence to make decisions.

Local governments are GREAT at understanding data, tracking progress, and using data and evidence to inform decisions.

Local governments SET THE PRECEDENT in understanding data, tracking progress, and using data and evidence to inform decisions.


Certified cities are better equipped to deliver the most effective services and programs that improve quality of life for residents. They’re using data-driven governance to increase resident satisfaction, engage communities in improving their neighborhoods, reduce carbon emissions, revitalize aging infrastructure, protect renters’ rights, move more people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing, and much more.

Cities that complete a Certification assessment become eligible for a wide range of support from What Works Cities, from access to the initiative’s learning network to the receipt of targeted technical assistance from What Works Cities partners. Learn more below.


Accelerate on your city's path to excellence by completing a Certification assessment. This will help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your local government’s management, see how your practices stack up against those of their peers, determine how you can improve, and start getting support to drive outcomes for your community.

Assessments are accepted on a rolling basis. For local governments that score high enough to achieve Certification, the calendar year in which they submit an assessment determines the year of their Certification status.

Please contact certification@whatworkscities.org with any questions.