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The 4 Best Places To Find Local Government Benchmarking Data

Figuring out how your municipality stacks up is difficult—but important. Here are four resources you can use to help.

Director & Rochesterian

 

Cities and municipalities today want to know how they stack up to one another. Knowing that your municipality responds to 90% of police calls in eight minutes is one thing—but do you know how that compares to what other similarly-sized cities are doing? Or you may know that you can clear all major roadways of snow in under 4 hours—but do you know if neighboring cities are able to take care of snow removal in more or less time?

Having access to great local government and city benchmarking data can be helpful for internal purposes and to show citizens how your city is doing compared to similar cities nearby and around the country. Below, we’ve listed four resources with some great benchmarking data—take a look.

The 4 Best Places To Find Local Government Benchmarking Data

1. ICMA

The International City Managers Association (ICMA) is a professional organization that’s mission is “to create excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional management to build better communities.” Several years ago, ICMA partnered with a software organization to create a benchmarking software called ICMA Insights, which would allow cities to input and share data as they wished. Unfortunately, the software didn’t work out, and they stopped the project in August 2016.

Soon, ICMA hopes to recommend a set of 200 measures that users can request. You can read more about the ICMA’s various benchmarking functions on its website.

Need a boost for your municipal strategy? Download 143 local government KPIs and scorecard measures.

2. Regional Or Specific Consortiums

Many states and communities have their own consortiums made up of neighboring communities for benchmarking purposes. Some are official, and others aren’t—but they can be very effective in benchmarking certain measures together.

The one thing these groups often lack is an easy way to share information. Many rely on emailing spreadsheets, which can be disastrous depending on the situation. Reporting software is a great alternative that can help you avoid the dangers of Excel.

If you’re interested, search online for an existing consortium in your area. If there isn’t one available, consider contacting your regional neighbors (or communities like yours around the country) to see if they’re interested in joining with you in your benchmarking efforts.

3. STAR Communities

STAR Communities—or “Sustainable Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities”—is a nonprofit organization focused on local government. It doesn’t provide data but instead provides “rankings” and helps organizations use the “STAR framework.” The STAR framework provides municipalities with seven possible citywide goals to use, up to 45 objectives, and over 500 measures to choose from.

Within the STAR framework, you can find other communities that are examining similar goals and objectives or using similar measures, which may help with your benchmarking efforts.

4. ClearPoint Municipal Measures Library

Coming Soon

There are more than 30 municipalities using ClearPoint, and we want to provide them with the most comprehensive reporting experience available. So, we’ve been building out the Municipal Measures Library to answer the call for more benchmarking opportunities.

The data found in this forthcoming library will be consistently updated (as it’s the same data used to manage in the city). ClearPoint customers can tag the measures they want to share with other municipalities and then search a comprehensive measure library for what is important to them.

We’ve also seen that a major pitfall in city benchmarking data is placing too much focus on ensuring measures are exactly the same. To solve for this, we’re creating a community of agreement among a few key members of our advisory committee on what goal areas the measures should support. When users search the library, they can then find measures similar to what they’re looking for—even if the comparison isn’t exactly “apples to apples.”

Finally, each measure will include contact information for the measure owner, which will create a networking opportunity. The Municipal Measures Library will be released in the first quarter of 2017. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us.

In Conclusion

It’s no secret that municipal benchmarking is difficult—cities are all so different from one another. Even comparable municipalities often look at very different measures, track measures differently, utilize different formulas, etc. With all this in mind, it’s easy to become discouraged—but you must remember that the perfect community to compare yours to probably doesn’t exist. So when it comes to benchmarking, you can’t let perfect become the enemy of good. If you find some communities that are good enough, use them for benchmarking purposes and draw out whatever conclusions you’re able to—even if you have to take those conclusions with a grain of salt.

The 4 Best Places To Find Local Government Benchmarking Data
 

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