Critical Read

Lessons learned in federal analytics programs

data to decisions III report

What: "From Data to Decisions III: Lessons from Early Analytics Programs," by the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government

Why: The federal government has analytics programs going back decades. As agencies look to find new ways to use their data to measure performance and make projections about the future, these early success stories provide a road map for smart thinking about analytics.

In 1986, the Agency for International Development launched the Famine Early Warning Systems Network to combine data about factors that contribute to the outbreak of famine. The service combines satellite weather data and agricultural information with data on trade from U.S. and international organizations to project the vulnerability of various parts of the world to famine. The early warning system gives aid agencies and nongovernmental organizations a heads-up on trouble spots, and is used to help direct about $1.5 billion in food aid per year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a system called PulseNet in 1996 to trace incidents of foodborne illness back to their sources. The network connects 87 public health labs and saves an estimated $291 million in medical costs annually. Other case studies involve defense against invasive plant and animal species and a biometrics database designed to track adversaries and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These "mature data programs" provide an opportunity for federal managers to discover what works and what doesn't, according to the report. Effective programs have a few common characteristics, including a powerful sponsor inside the agency, the ability to show return on investment, and motivated users who refine the analytic tools and provide answers to mission-critical questions.

Verbatim: "Most analytics pathbreakers are strikingly collaborative. They seek out like-minded souls who might already have collected data they can adapt to their purposes or who have developed new methods for prying out or combining it."

Download: Get the report.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.