At a time when Laredo, Texas, struggled to compete with other mid-sized cities, it turned to its residents to determine the best course of action. A group of city-dwelling millennials brought its concerns of Laredo’s declining downtown development to the city council and presented to the council an idea to turn things around. The plan was to work with What Works Cities (WWC) to address these concerns. Taking the millennials’ message to heart, the Mayor and his team applied to and became a WWC partner.
After joining the WWC program, the City of Laredo worked with staff from the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) to better understand the data barriers and conduct on-site workshops in order to identify the City’s areas of greatest need. What we discovered was not uncommon; Laredo had unsophisticated data practices, difficulties in communicating and sharing information across departments, and lacked well-documented data.
Together, GovEx and City staff revolutionized Laredo’s data management processes and practices. From creating a data governance team and inventorying data citywide, to shifting the City’s culture around both the usefulness of and its willingness to share data, Laredo set itself up to achieve its goal to improve development downtown and financial transparency.