Local government bodies stand to gain significant strategic benefits from establishing an in-house research team, according to a new discussion paper released by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG).

The Knowledge City report focsusses on the work of the research unit within the City of Melbourne, known as City Research.

The paper is split into two segments, one covering the relative benefits emerging from local research written by Caroline Baum, and adopts a journalist’s perspective, the other is a case study written by a City of Melbourne employee.

In her segment, Ms Baum concludes that by adopting a more holistic approach to research, Melbourne’s City Research garnered a more comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing the world’s most liveable city.

In the other segment,  Manager of the City Research unit, Austin Ley says ‘The objective is evidence-based planning across all sectors so that we can track the effectiveness of our policies and adapt as the city changes.’ In the section ‘City Research at the City of Melbourne’, Ley also makes the case for the development of a local government research discipline as a key means of strengthening this effort.

From this enhanced research effort and focus, local government, can:

  • understand their local areas and communities, enabling informed debate about issues, policies and decisions, not disputes over the sources of facts;
  • find the best, most cost effective way to provide services now and in the future;
  • be accountable and monitor progress toward goals;
  • grow their local economies; and
  • build new – or replace old – infrastructure, particularly with respect to Federal and State priorities and funding.

The full discussion paper can be found here