City of Asheville receives 2020 Center for Accountability leadership award

Minority business photo illustration

The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that we are the recipient of the Center for Accountability and Performance (CAP) Organizational Leadership Award. This award, presented to an organization, recognizes outstanding applications of a systems approach to performance measurement that resulted in a culture change, sustained improvements and demonstrated positive effects on government performance and accountability. The award recognizes an organization that has yielded outstanding results on a sustained basis. City representatives received the award during a July 23 virtual ceremony.

Over the last decade, the City of Asheville has worked to build a unique data culture that drives performance in how the City articulates policies, responds to the urgent needs of residents and supports decision making. Led by a multidisciplinary governance community with leadership from the City Manager’s Office, Business Inclusion, Equity and Inclusion, Capital Projects, Budget, IT, and community members, the City of Asheville has made tremendous gains encouraging departure from City Hall norms and inspiring significant innovation.


A specific example of how data and performance is driving change in the City of Asheville is the organizational response to the recent Disparity Study results.


Disparity Study results showed that between 2012 and 2017, of the $118 million in city contracts, only $12 million — or about 10% — went to minority- and women-owned businesses. Additionally, across 10 counties, the study identified 308 willing/available/and ready minority-owned businesses, an undercount and under utilization of the total minority-owned small businesses. The lack of equity in the contracting process has led to a strong sense of community distrust in the vendor marketplace process due to discrimination and minority businesses not being reached by services that could improve their competitiveness in the marketplace. The City initiated a series of organizational management rebuilds including:

  • Setting tangible and measurable business development, economic mobility, and equity goals across the organization and within specific departments;
  • Developing a new work plan process to enable City of Asheville leadership to track performance bi-annually;
  • Engaging local Black business leaders to identify capacity-building strategies, resulting in the formation of a community-led nonprofit, the Mountain Business Equity Initiative, to provide training and support for minority businesses wanting to contract with the City;
  • Initiating a pilot program in Capital Projects in collaboration with Business Inclusion to improve outreach and data collection procedures to reduce contracting disparities, an effort now being rolled out citywide;
  • Training City of Asheville staff across multiple departments on effective community outreach and engagement practices; 
  • Developing the framing for a new internal business development and equity dashboard; and
  • Establishing a data governance structure to oversee the management of more innovative data collection and data sharing systems.


CAP is a division of the American Society for Public Administration and aims to improve the practice of public service by helping Public Administration and Nonprofit professionals acquire the knowledge, technical skills and resources necessary to successfully manage for results.