Rand Corp. To Develop Local Wellbeing Index For City Of Santa Monica

Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 9:18:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

If there is a way to measure the wellbeing of the Santa Monica Community, the RAND Corp. will find out, as the City Council approved Tuesday a consent calendar item to develop a Local Wellbeing Index (LWI).

In exchange for RAND developing the LWI, City Hall will pay the research firm $650,000.

It was announced during the council meeting that Brianna Freiheit, who has worked with government agencies and nonprofit organizations for more than a decade, will serve as project manager.

The development of the LWI – which is part of The Wellbeing Project – was spawned by Santa Monica’s successful submission to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge. Five cities, including Santa Monica, were awarded grants last year in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge to spur innovation in local government.

City Hall’s successful submission was a plan “to measure and actively improve wellbeing at the community level.”

Santa Monica was granted $1 million for its successful submission.

According to City Staff, the LWI is “a dynamic measurement tool combining quantitative and qualitative data to provide a multidimensional understanding of the community’s strengths and challenges.”

“The Local Wellbeing Index will measure community wellbeing across five areas (economic, social, health, education and care, and local context),” City staff stated. “Using a blend of quantitative and qualitative data, the Index findings will be used to inform decision-making and resource allocation processes.”

In conjunction with the development of the LWI, City Hall also created the Office of Wellbeing to manage the project. According to City staff, a two-year timeline is attached to the grant-funded portion of the project.

RAND would work together with the City’s Project Advisory Team and “an interdisciplinary panel of experts, the lead consultant will be responsible for development of an easily-understandable, usable, and scalable measurement tool,” City staff stated.

Three bidders, including RAND, were finalists for the contract to develop the LWI after City Hall put out a request for proposals in September. Bidding took place over three weeks, with 10 bidders responding to the RFP, City staff stated.

“Proposals ranged from $122,650 to $920,000, with varying levels of understanding of desired scope and deliverables,” City staff added.

 RAND and New Economics Foundation will partner together on research and analysis components of this project, according to City staff.

“The remainder of the project budget will be allocated for communications and end user engagement activities, as well as development of a plan for ongoing sustainability of the project,” City staff added.

City Hall estimates the “data architecture” would be complete by Spring 2014; a beta version of LWI would be ready for testing in Summer 2014.

The LWI would be complete and published by October 2014. At that point, City staff and RAND would work together “to pilot strategies for use of the index findings, and explore additional sources of data for incorporation into the index.”

Strategies for how to sustain the wellbeing index would be ready by mid-2015.

In all, 305 cities submitted to the Mayors Challenge last year. Santa Monica was announced as one of the five winning cities in March 2013. The other four winning cities were Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Providence, R.I.

The consent calendar item was unanimously approved.

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