Fort Collins Achieves 2021 What Works Cities Certification

City of Fort Collins Panorama.

The City of Fort Collins has been recognized for achieving the 2021 What Works Cities Certification, the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance. What Works Cities Certification evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making.


Fort Collins achieved Certification at the Silver level, is one of 16 cities to be newly certified this year and one of only 40 cities to be certified since the program began in April 2017. What Works Cities is a national initiative launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help cities use data and evidence more effectively to tackle their most pressing challenges.


“We are honored to be recognized by What Works Cities for our commitment to make local government work for our community,” said City Manager Darin Atteberry. “The City of Fort Collins places a high value on using data to inform everything we do – from helping residents and businesses conserve water to developing the City’s budget, and everywhere in between.”


What Works Cities Certification assesses cities based on their data-driven decision-making practices, such as whether they are using data to set goals and track progress, allocate funding, evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. The program also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence.


Over the past year, Fort Collins has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the City’s use of data include:

  • Landscape Water Budget Program: Using hourly water use data to provide suggested water-use budgets to commercial irrigation customers, empowering them to make water conservation decisions for their properties.
  • Proactive Utility Account Outreach: during the pandemic, Fort Collins Utilities leveraged its customer account data to identify customers who had fallen behind on payments to reach out directly with information about various payment assistance programs.
  • Performance Measurement: every budget proposal and strategic plan objective are tied to concrete performance measures that allow the City to track progress and community impact, and make service adjustments when needed.


The City of Fort Collins also makes data sets available to the public at to promote transparency and encourage innovation among community members.


What Works Cities Certification

The 16 new cities that achieved Certification this year include four cities at the Gold level (Austin, TX; Chattanooga, TN; Detroit, MI; and Gilbert, AZ) and 12 cities at the Silver level: Baton Rouge, LA; Bellevue, WA; Fort Collins, CO; Glendale, AZ; Irving, TX; Little Rock, AR; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Norfolk, VA; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; and Syracuse, NY.


“During the pandemic, using data to inform decision-making was more important than ever for cities – it helped them respond directly to the needs of their residents and deliver essential services as the situation on the ground constantly changed,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th mayor of New York City. “By putting data at the center of their COVID-19 response efforts, these cities saved lives and helped residents recover – and they now have a chance to come out of this crisis stronger, more resilient, and better prepared for the next one.”


What Works Cities Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee. To evaluate cities, these experts conducted a rigorous validation process of cities’ Certification assessments and participated in site visits to the highest-performing cities to determine the city’s Certification level.


The program has inspired a movement of cities that are doubling down on their commitment to building the most well-managed local governments possible and using Certification as a roadmap for doing so. More than 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment to have their practices benchmarked against the national standard. The assessment is the first step to receiving exclusive support from What Works Cities to continue building a more effective local government. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit


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