What Works City Feature: Tulsa, OK

Using data to build toward the sustainable boom


The Opportunity
In early 2015, Tulsa relaunched its performance management initiative in an effort to systematically address key strategic priorities as set by Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the City Council. In doing so, the city leadership team explored ways to refine its goals by assigning metrics and timeframes to each goal and to build upon its existing open data portal by releasing data that are responsive to the needs of city residents and internal departments. In doing so, the leadership recognized that, to make progress, the city must engage the public and leverage its data.

Setting the Stage
The City of Tulsa’s leadership talk about their city as one that has undergone a profound series of changes. The second half of the twentieth century brought two booms and busts for the city: the first in oil and then the dot-com bubble. As Tulsa begins to gain in population again, city leadership is looking to ensure that they best take advantage of their data assets to tackle key priorities. These priorities include developing and improving the river corridor, enhancing economic development opportunities, and improving public safety and the perception of public safety for residents.

Our Work Together
With a strong commitment from the Mayor, City Council, and enthusiasm from the leadership team, What Works Cities (WWC) identified two main ways for Tulsa to partner with the experts at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), Results for America, and the Sunlight Foundation.

First, Tulsa worked with GovEx and Sunlight to deepen the culture of transparency, accountability, and trust between government and residents by establishing an official process for the review and release of public data, applying best practices to the city’s open data policy, and engaging the public in the open data process. The city was able to update its open data policy framework through both Executive Order 2015-07 and a newly developed Open Data Advisory Board Charter, which were adopted simultaneously. Together, these new policy instruments incorporate many best practices from around the country and created the first formal governance and implementation structure for the open data program in Tulsa’s Open Data Advisory Board (ODAB). In addition to overseeing all processes around Tulsa’s civic data, one key feature of ODAB committee membership is that it includes a seat for interested residents to participate in governance discussions, providing an opportunity for local businesses, residents, neighborhood associations, or other stakeholders to request support from city government directly.

Building on its open data scope of work, Tulsa worked with the GovEx team to begin developing a performance management framework around Mayor Bartlett’s five guiding value statements for the city. Beginning with a focus on improving public safety, the city began drafting comprehensive strategic roadmaps linking departmental goals, metrics, and timelines to outcomes based on those values. This led to the city’s first Public Safety Stat meeting on March 11, 2016; stakeholding departments attended and presented data on progress toward goals, answered questions about trends, and participated in discussions about how their actions can contribute to moving the needle in a positive direction. These meetings will continue as Tulsa finalizes other priority roadmaps and develops plans to expand its performance management program into a citywide governance tool.

Collectively, the performance management and open data work provide a new way to leverage the city’s data and reorient the city’s culture toward incorporating data and evidence in all aspects of decision-making.

Key Accomplishments

Making significant strides toward better leveraging data and evidence, Tulsa has

  • •adopted a new open data policy through Executive Order 2015-07, building upon the city’s 2013 City Council Resolution by incorporating open data best practices;
  • engaged local developers in key planning decisions and included residents in ODAB membership;
  • •created goals, metrics, and timelines to support the Mayor’s focus on improving public safety in Tulsa;
  • •convened an inaugural Public Safety Stat meeting;
  • •crafted roadmaps linking the Mayor’s priorities to strategic goals supported by metrics and timelines; and
  • •identified key datasets and metrics that support those strategic goals.

Tulsa’s commitment to these tools and to advancing its ability to use data and evidence will enable the city to continue delivering better results for Tulsans.

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Posted by What Works Cities Staff