Data analytics gains momentum in agencies

About two-thirds of federal agencies in a recent survey are using data analytics systems to improve operations, and there is great potential for more gains, according to a new study.

The May 22 report, “Leveraging Data Analytics in Federal Organizations,” is based on in-depth surveys with eight federal agencies. It was produced by the Association for Government Accountants and sponsored by Accenture.

The study found that most of the data analytics currently being used are focused on targets established by the White House—including reducing $125 billion in improper payments government-wide, improving financial performance and identifying high-risk investigative targets.

At the same time, several agencies interviewed have had great success in utilizing data analytics for enhancing their operations, and their techniques and best practices could be applied to achieve benefits at other agencies, the report suggested.

For example, the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service reduced the rate of fraudulent food stamp trafficking to 1 percent, down from about 2.5 percent, by using data analytics, the report indicated. Trafficking means the food stamps are sold for cash, which is illegal.

The data analysis helped the agency quickly identify merchants who were illegally selling food stamps and remove them from the program.

“Based on benefit levels of $75.6 billion in FY 2011, we estimate that this would translate into $1.1 billion of benefits that were not trafficked last year,” the report said.

The remaining one-third of respondent agencies said they are not using data analytics for various reasons: 67 percent cited lack of funding; 53 percent cited a lack of staff and 33 percent said they were unsure how to develop a data analytics system. Many of the agencies mentioned more than one reason why they were not using the systems.

“Given the conclusions of this research initiative, it appears while most government leaders have a general understanding of data analytics, they are not yet champions of integrating these tools into their agencies,” Relmond Van Daniker, executive director of the association, said in a news release.

“While there is no clear plan to leverage the federal government’s investment in data analytics, they are in a good position to build on the advances they have already made,” Van Daniker added.

The eight agencies surveyed in the report are the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board; USDA Food and Nutrition Service; Defense Department's Defense Finance and Accounting Service; Defense Logistics Agency; Naval Sea Systems Command; Education Department's Office of Inspector General; Health and Human Services Department's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid; U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.





About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group