State and Local Agencies Demand More Analytics Capacity

The shift toward evidence-based policies is creating the demand.

Recent passage of a slew of federal measures now push state and local recipients of federal funding to track performance and outcomes, especially within social services programs. Of particular interest is the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017.

The movement to use data to drive better program results and cost-effectiveness had been catalyzed by both the Bush and Obama administrations. The bill requires development and maintenance of a comprehensive data inventory for all government data assets.

The act also calls for establishment of best practices for the use, protection, dissemination and generation of data as well as promotion of data sharing agreements among agencies. In other words, the benefits include improved accessibility to data, making even more data publicly available.

However, the federal measures rarely included money to help agencies build staff skills and acquire analytics tools they need to track results and become more data-driven.

A forthcoming Federal Data Strategy is likely to outline key provisions for the implementation of this law.

The issue of analytics capacity building is starting to get attention from lawmakers in Washington, DC which may result in more federal funding for analytics resources and training. [emphasis added]

In the meantime, states and localities have an immediate and growing requirement for cost-effective data management and analytics strategies.

Excerpts initially appeared in “Market Insights,” a newsletter of GOVERNING, the nation's leading nonpartisan media platform covering policy and management for state and local government leaders. It provides insight and analysis on such issues as public finance, transportation, economic development, health, energy, the environment and technology.

KISTERS develops water information systems that enable agencies to efficiently and strategically maintain an inventory of, rigorously analyze and share environmental data to effectively evaluate environmental protection and environmental quality programs. The commercial software includes an array of analytical tools to quickly equip staff to enhance the tracking of program results. Security settings further facilitate data sharing agreements among agencies like the establishment of a regional conservation hub.