Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced he is allocating $3.2 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs (MORP) towards modernizing government services and improving service performance and equity.

The investment will help stand up two new programs in the Mayor’s Office – Baltimore Digital and the City Performance Team to bring innovative approaches and best practices to using data, design, and technology to support the Mayor’s Responsible Stewardship of City Resources Action Plan pillar.

“I am truly excited about this investment, which I know will be essential in bringing innovative services and support to city residents,” Mayor Scott said in a statement.

Specifically, $2.1 million of the funding will go to Baltimore First – a small team of technology experts tasked with building more accessible and equitable digital tools for residents to access services.

Digital service teams – much like Baltimore Digital – are being created throughout the U.S. at all levels of government to help provide online services and tools in a simpler, cheaper, and easily deployable manner. The Baltimore Digital team will employ user experience design techniques to ensure the needs of users are met and that tools are easy to use and accessible, as well as product management methods that result in quicker delivery of services to end users.

“As part of Mayor Scott’s commitment to modernizing government and providing excellent customer service to constituents, Baltimore Digital will play a critical role in centering residents and their needs in building and buying technology,” said Justin Elszasz, chief data officer for the City of Baltimore. Elszasz will also supervise the Baltimore Digital team.

The additional $1.1 million of the funding will help establish the City Performance Team in the Mayor’s Office of Performance & Innovation, to help build a more holistic and comprehensive approach to performance management for the City of Baltimore.

The City Performance Team is a key effort to streamline measures collected for existing processes such as the budget book, CitiStat, and the Mayor’s Action Plan. This will also allow the City to strengthen agency performance, ensuring that these metrics are meaningful and accurate ways to track the effectiveness of City service delivery.

“Since taking office, one of my main goals has been to ensure our City government is operating in the most up-to-date fashion and at optimal efficiency. This investment will help enhance our performance and, ultimately, allow us to move ever closer towards the state-of-the-art government that our residents deserve,” Mayor Scott said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.