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Santa Monica Looks to RAND Corporation to Measure City’s Well-Being

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

November 12, 2013 -- The City Council Tuesday could tap the Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation to design a way to measure the “wellbeing” of the city’s residents.

Defining “wellbeing” and developing an inter-disciplinary tool to measure it will be the task facing the famous nonprofit think tank if the Council approves the $650,000 contract.

There are “a lot of different dimensions” to the project, said Mayor Pam O’Connor. RAND certainly has “scientific rigor that’s needed”

The contract, if approved, will be paid for with the $1 million prize Santa Monica took home in March when it, along with five other cities, won Bloomberg Philanthorpies’ Mayors Challenge. (“Santa Monica Wins $1 Million Bloomberg Prize,” March 13)

Santa Monica’s winning idea was to develop an index that would look at residents’ socio-economic statuses, physical health, education, strength of their relationships and other factors to develop an aggregate “wellbeing” index.

Tuesday’s decision would be the next step in implementing that plan, said O’Connor.

“This is one of the milestone steps of moving that index forward,” she said.

“There’s research being done and efforts throughout the world,” she said, adding that Santa Monica will draw from that research and, hopefully, add its own discoveries to the “emerging science” of wellbeing.

As is the case with all City contracts, RAND competed in a request for proposal (RFP) process against nine other applicants.

According to staff, RAND was best suited for the task.

“An interdepartmental review panel evaluated responses based on understanding of the project and compatibility with project goals; experience with successful development of similar measurement tools using a panel of experts process; track record for innovative solutions; and recommended approach to index development, including partnerships and deliverables,” staff said.

“The RAND Corporation team was identified as the most qualified candidate based on completeness of scope and corresponding budget,” staff said. “Proposals ranged from $122,650 to $920,000, with varying levels of understanding of desired scope and deliverables.”

While RAND would develop the tools to complete the wellbeing project, the next step is to staff the City’s new Office of Wellbeing, which “will be responsible for managing the project to ensure that key deliverables are received on time and on budget,” staff said.

While the development of a measurement tool and data collecting process is a two-year project, the City hopes that it will be able to use the index for many years to come to help identify the places that City Hall can actively help improve residents’ “wellbeing.”

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