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BIT to partner with US cities through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities Initiative

20th Apr 2015

New partnership will help to launch US operations for BIT

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) has entered into a three-year partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies on its new What Works Cities initiative. The $42 million project endeavors to build on existing innovation at the city-level by helping mayors and local leaders use data and evidence to engage the public, make government more effective and improve people’s lives. What Works Cities is the latest initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation portfolio, which promotes public sector innovation and spreads effective ideas amongst cities around the world. BIT will be one of a group of partners providing technical support and advice to cities as they enhance how they use data and evidence to make decisions. BIT will help cities conduct real-time, low-cost program evaluations to continually improve city services.

“City leaders across the nation are using data to improve programs and policies and drive innovation—and we’re thrilled to put additional wind at their backs,” said James Anderson, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation programs. “Bloomberg Philanthropies has assembled expert partners to provide world class support and inspiration to cities. We’re excited to bring the Behavioral Insights Team to the States and enable them to work with the growing number of local leaders who are excited to embrace new ways to understand what’s producing results for citizens.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies will be the founding client for “the Behavioral Insights Team”: BIT’s new USA subsidiary. Based in New York, the new office will build a portfolio of new projects that will drive social impact on an even larger scale. This will give BIT a fixed base in the USA, adding to a growing global network of offices in Sydney and London. The move to the US will allow BIT to strengthen its existing relationships in the US, including the partnership with the Behavioral Insights Group (BIG) at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, supported by a grant from the Sloan Foundation. The new New York-based company will be led by Elspeth Kirkman, a member of BIT’s senior team in the UK, and is currently recruiting staff.

David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team, said:

“We are delighted to be a part of this new movement, which aims to improve lives through focusing government decision making on data and evidence rather than good intentions or inkling. Furthermore, we are delighted to be setting up a US office and look forward to seeing the social impact BIT generates amplified even further.”

Richard Thaler, Co-Author of Nudge, Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the Chicago Booth School of Business, and long-time academic advisor to the Behavioural Insights Team said:

“It is fantastic news that Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting the use of behavioral insights to improve government efficiency and find out “what works”. Having a New York branch of BIT will add another organization to the growing number of groups in the U.S. doing applied behavioral research in universities, governments and non-profit research centers.”

To learn more and apply for What Works Cities, visit

Notes to Editors

The UK’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) is regarded as the world leader in the application of behavioural science to public policy problems. Formed in 2010 by the Coalition Government to ‘support people to make better choices for themselves’ its impacts have included getting people back to work faster; speeding up the payment of £100s millions in unpaid tax; increasing organ donation; supporting growth; reducing medical errors; and encouraging giving. In early 2014, BIT became a social purpose company owned by the Cabinet Office, Nesta, and employees. The new USA subsidiary will use the American spelling of “Behavioral”, working under the name “The Behavioral Insights Team”. For further information, email

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.