Challenges of Evidence-Based Decision Making to Combat Urban Blight: Revisiting Local Government Information Management with the Lens of Code Enforcement
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This study aims to explore government information management policies and environments, and the conditions and mechanisms through which evidence-informed decisions occur in local governments. For a more detailed discussion, we have narrowed our scope to code enforcement policies and actions in local governments, regarding new construction and the maintenance of existing structures within cities. Building and housing code enforcement is vital for securing economic development, public safety, and the quality of life within cities. To design and administer code policies and programs effectively, the code-related information, such as property owner records, building plans, and the history and status of violations, is necessary. Moreover, such information can become important sources of information for stainable urban planning, land use controls, and business opportunities, when combined with other social, economic, and geographic data. Thus, we examine two research questions with a focus on non-judicial building and housing code enforcement: (1) how do local governments manage code enforcement information along the information lifecycle, from information acquisition to information use and preservation?; and (2) when and how does the information support decision making?
Our analysis relies on field notes, interview scripts, and survey data collected through field research in the building and code departments in four city governments in NY. This study employs a multi-method research strategy to analyze the data: specifically, content analysis and statistical methods.
This study contributes to the literature on government information management, information sharing, collaboration, and coordination for improved decision making in government organizations. In particular, we apply the socio-technical approach to government information management to the setting, code enforcement, which has not been addressed in literature. In addition, this study extends the focus of the literature on evidence-based decision making in the public sector from policy- and program-level decisions (e.g., Mele et al., 2013; Sanderson, 2002) to case-level decisions. It also shows that the administrative data collected as a result of government organizations’ day-to-day operations do not play a critical role only in evidence-informed administration but also in better program- and policy-level decisions. We believe that these lessons may help scholar and government practitioners to start a conversation about new ways to use empirical data from diverse sources as evidence for decision making across policy domains and levels of government.