Using the Roadmap
Who should use this Roadmap?
This Roadmap is for any staff member in city government who is charged with solving a problem or implementing a policy. Although the steps can be used to change existing programs or implement new programs, the focus of the Roadmap is on long-term, sustainable policy change. We use the term "policy" to mean laws, regulations, funding decisions, and interventions.
City staff who are reading this guide may be coming from different starting points. It is important to be honest about where that is. For instance, you may be looking for new solutions to longstanding, seemingly intractable problems such as an annual increase in gun violence, or maybe you are facing newer challenges, like the opioid epidemic. Or perhaps you are looking for a data-driven way to address issues related to day-to-day service delivery, such as permitting or bike lanes. The steps are applicable whether you are working on a large scale issue or a local municipal issue.
You can use this guide whether you are a decision maker or front line worker. Throughout the Roadmap, there's information about when and how to engage other people. Collaboration is a key theme through this Roadmap. The good news is, you do not have to do this work alone!
The approach and the tools contained in the Roadmap should be relevant whether you are in a strong mayor or council-manager form of government. Elevating this process to the level of Mayor, City Manager, or City Council may take time and multiple steps, but we hope you will find ways to incorporate data and evidence into your day-to-day work.
What are the steps of the Roadmap?
The chapters in this Roadmap represent the high-level steps involved in policy change. You will notice that the sections refer to one another and build on the previous steps. The Roadmap is meant to be iterative; you will revisit some steps.
The roots of the problems that cities are working to solve are complex and may be the legacy of historical federal policy or sweeping social trends. Although this Roadmap does not explicitly include steps on reviewing this history, we encourage readers to develop a deep understanding of the problem in your own city, while considering current state and federal context.
In interviews with GovEx on the policy change process in their cities, "people" was the word most commonly used by interviewees when describing the various steps to implement a new policy or program. You will notice that this is a theme throughout this Roadmap: The first section begins with identifying the relevant people. The chapter on identifying roles for key partners serves as a foundation for the following steps. The discussion of evidence encourages readers to consider ways in which people can build and use evidence to design strong programs and initiatives, change human behavior, assess impact, ensure effective use of public resources, and improve lives.
Meaningful application of evidence by policy makers does not happen with one-time sharing of cutting edge evidence. Rather, "meaningful influence requires a long-term strategy to form alliances and develop knowledge of policy makers and policy making." In addition to working with the right people and understanding evidence and context, we hope that Roadmap users will form a peer network that shares not just which policy solutions exist, but what implementation looks like. As one city we spoke to in developing this Roadmap put it, "a lot of our city's problems have been solved by others, we just need to figure out how to implement the solutions."
The examples throughout the Roadmap are illustrative of governments that have effectively implemented the relevant steps in this Roadmap, but please note that no city does all of this perfectly. Together, the steps in this Roadmap are meant to help cities frame their problems, create a demand for evidence, and build sustainable coalitions for meaningful policy change.