Overcoming Roadblocks to Data-Driven Governance in Cities

Pursuing Mayor Garcetti's "back-to-basics" agenda, the city of Los Angeles' notoriously complex and convoluted bureaucracy has taken big leaps toward data-driven governance—thanks, in large part, to Deputy Mayor of Budget and Innovation Rick Cole.

1 minute read

June 27, 2015, 7:00 AM PDT

By Molly M. Strauss @mmstrauss


After two years on the mayor's team, Cole now departs for a new post as city manager of Santa Monica. Reflecting on his tenure in Los Angeles, Cole offers insight into the challenges of transforming the public sector from the inside out. 

In an interview with The Planning Report, Cole notes some major successes around the city of Los Angeles' fiscal health: progress toward eliminating its structural deficit and an upgraded credit status. But he also explains the roadblocks to pursuing innovations within city agencies, from purchasing policies to public processes that can slow such changes down. He points to the digitization of municipal real estate holdings as an example and encourages the city to take action rather than continue talking about the problems that need attention:

"We have plenty of official reports and studies of what’s wrong. What we need is the capacity to actually fix what’s wrong. Look, Thomas Edison defined 'genius' as 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. The same ratio applies to government. 'Reform' is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent implementation."

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