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City of Boston Achieves Results for America What Works Cities' Gold Certification

New certification demonstrates the City’s exceptional use of data to inform policy decisions and improve services for residents.

Mayor Michelle Wu today announced that the City of Boston has been awarded the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities Certification at the Gold Level for establishing exceptional data capabilities to inform policy decisions, allocate funding, improve services, evaluate program effectiveness, and engage residents. Strengthened in 2022 to include new equity requirements, the What Works Cities Certification is the first-of-its-kind standard of excellence for data-informed and well-managed local government. With today’s announcement, Boston becomes one of 74 cities that have achieved the What Works Cities Certification distinction with more than 160 cities having submitted applications since 2017. This certification builds on Mayor Wu’s vision of an inclusive City that serves all residents.

“Our charge in local government is to continuously improve city services, opportunities, policy, and programming to reach our residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Boston is working everyday to build on our use of data for smart decision making and operational transparency. This gold certification is a significant step forward in our work to build a City that is truly inclusive, and I’m excited to continue our efforts across city departments to best serve all of our residents.”

The City of Boston has deepened investments across city departments to make better use of data around evaluating policies and improving processes for residents. The City is also making strides to ensure city workers are informed and best equipped to use emerging technology to advance service delivery, notably seen with the City releasing guidelines for using generative AI.  These guidelines serve as a key resource for the City’s workforce and supports the successful implementation of AI in city services. 

“Being awarded the Gold Certification, shows that Boston is a leader in using data to make our City government work more equitably and efficiently for all of our constituents,” said Santiago Garces, Chief Information Officer. “In the Department of Innovation and Technology, we have furthered investments in evaluation, process improvements, and leading in AI, empowering our city staff and community members to build a better Boston.”

In 2023, the Mayor’s Office for LGBTQ+ Advancement, a department within the Equity & Inclusion Cabinet, researched how and when the City should be asking about gender identity through a series of data-driven projects including engaging residents through focus groups and evaluating constituents' overall experience with Marriage License processes. Based on the City’s findings, the Cabinet worked with the Department of Innovation and Technology to develop a citywide Gender Aware Guidelines and Standards that clarified the collection of gender-identity data for city workers - leading to a more dignified constituent experience.  

“This recognition reflects our commitment to leveraging data for informed decision-making, equitable resource allocation, and inclusive governance,” said Mariangely Solis Cervera, Chief of the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet. “I am particularly proud of our strides in advancing equitable data practices, such as the development of Gender Aware Guidelines and Standards. This certification not only signifies our city's progress but also reinforces our collective focus on building stronger communities through the transformative power of data.” 

The What Works Cities Certification Standard measures a city’s use of data based on 43 criteria. A city that achieves 51–67 percent of the 43 criteria is recognized at the Silver level of Certification, 68–84 percent is required to achieve Gold, and 85 percent or more is required to reach Platinum. With this new certification, the City of Boston joins 12 newly certified cities, six other currently certified cities which have achieved a higher certification level and four cities being re-certified.  

In 2022, What Works Cities Certification released updated criteria for cities to achieve recognition for excellence in using data to improve local government operations and policies. The new criteria also include the practice of disaggregating data to avoid algorithmic bias. Additionally, Certification now requires cities to show that they meet an internationally recognized standard on at least one of three outcomes: air pollution, the percentage of households with high-speed broadband subscriptions, or a high-priority outcome the city chooses that aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). Further information about today’s announcement is available here.

“We are excited to welcome the newly Certified cities and congratulate those cities which have achieved a higher level or re-Certified—they have all demonstrated a collective focus on how data can be used to build stronger communities,” said Rochelle Haynes, Managing Director of What Works Cities Certification. “These cities understand that local government data use is a pre-condition to solving problems, assessing what is working, and improving how their city halls do business – and they are investing their resources accordingly.”

“The Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification program represents a fast-growing community of policymakers raising the bar on what is possible for local government when it leverages data to address major challenges and opportunities facing the city,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “More than 160 cities across the Americas are seeking the What Works Cities Certification seal of approval because city halls – like any other effective modern organization – must be leveraging data to make better decisions. The program provides local governments with that North Star – and we are glad to see its reach continue to grow.” 

The What Works Cities Certification program, launched in 2017 by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Results for America, is the international standard of data excellence in city governance. The program is open to any city in North, Central or South America with a population of 30,000 or more. To learn more, visit

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