Fellowship Openings

Enhancing Data-Utilization to Improve Government Services

Project: Enhancing Data-Utilization to Improve Government Services

Agency: State of Missouri, Department of Labor & Industrial Relations

Location: Jefferson City, MO

PROJECT CONTEXT 

Over the past decade, Missouri state government has earned accolades for its approach to technology innovation within government, including receiving an “A” rating in 2016 from the Center for Digital Government. The state has set out to build a national model for a 21st Century digital government, one that blends innovation with responsiveness to the needs of all Missourians. As this approach has evolved, the State has identified better data collection, analysis, and utilization as a key focus area. Missouri believes that its ability to harness the power of data to design more effective programs and services is crucial to improving the lives of its residents.

Agencies across the state are being encouraged to strategically and responsibly share data with each other in order to advance interagency collaboration, public-private partnerships, data-driven policy making, and more holistic approaches to addressing the challenges facing residents. As one promising early example, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations and revenue have begun to align their datasets in ways that can be utilized by other departments working on child support services, elementary and secondary education, higher education, healthcare, senior services, corrections, and mental health to identify and investigate fraud, locate individuals, determine whether employers are complying with Missouri tax laws and co-registration allowing business to register for tax identification numbers and state unemployment account numbers at the same time. By expanding current data sharing agreements and collaborating with more agencies, the State collaboration could illuminate trends in datasets such  as the various conditions that contribute to chronic unemployment, including childcare, transportation, housing, healthcare, and education, among other factors. Focusing solely on job training to help the chronically unemployed will not be as effective as working collectively to address all of the factors that might enable an individual to ultimately secure and advance on a sustainable career path.

The Department of Labor & Industrial Relations has been a starting point for several such efforts because of the interconnected nature of information related to an individual’s employment status, compensation level, and career trajectory across all of the other aspects of their lives. Such efforts endeavor to see individuals and families as participants across multiple programs within an entire continuum of care, rather than merely as users of a variety of stand-alone programs that all happen to be administered by the state. Missouri is working to better understand how all of its programs and services are being accessed by users in order to gauge how successfully they are being served, what other related services they could be utilizing, and what changes in services could be made to help achieve more positive outcomes in their lives.

Despite the promise of these efforts, there are also many challenges to advancing effective data coordination throughout the state. There is, for example, no single department that has been charged with ensuring effective data alignment and comparative analysis throughout the state. Historically, the collection of data has been a decentralized process, with approaches and standards varying between departments. As a result, there is not a single comprehensive enumeration of all the data that the state possesses or how that data is being used. This also prevents the alignment of datasets in ways that would allow different agencies to compare the information available to the state about specific individuals and families. There are also significant and important sensitivities, safeguards, legislative and policy considerations with regard to the appropriate use and responsible sharing of any public data. Such restrictions must be carefully evaluated before advancing toward strategies that might better leverage public data for advancing the public good. As a result, the data necessary to gain a full picture of the state’s operations and services are often unavailable or insufficiently integrated.

To support this work, the state will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one to two years who will help the state to better utilize data and analytics in order to administer more effective services for Missouri residents. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help develop the infrastructure, processes and approaches that will support the sustainable collection, use and analysis of data across departments and programs. The Fellow will help enhance systems for the creation of a more structured and uniformed approach to data collection and utilization. The Fellow will also help promote a statewide shift around the perception of data by working with department staff to develop test cases that demonstrate the ability of enhanced data utilization to improve services for clients. By building on the momentum that the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations has already initiated, it is hoped that the fellow will help advance a statewide shift in culture that will benefit the health and wellbeing of the individuals and families served by the state.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in April 2020, and reporting to the Director of the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, it is proposed that the FUSE Executive Fellow will begin by getting up to speed about the state’s various departments, programs, operations, and leadership, as well as the current practices among the different departments for the collection, storage, and analysis of data. The Fellow will also develop an understanding of the priorities of the Governor, Cabinet Secretaries and their staff, and the State’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer with regard to data integration and utilization. With this background, the Fellow will begin to formulate plans about how to more efficiently and effectively collect and analyze data and encourage cross-departmental data collaborations. The Fellow will work to define and implement demonstration projects that show the potential for how differential uses of existing datasets can transform departments and improve program outcomes. The Fellow will also work with staff and other partners to develop plans for building internal capacity around ongoing data aggregation and analytics. The Fellow will report to the DOLIR Department Director, Anna Hui. Specific responsibilities of this project will be for the Fellow to:

  • Develop a baseline analysis of current status – Create a more comprehensive index of all the major datasets being used across state agencies, the ways in which that data is being collected and stored, the types of data analyses and data utilization efforts currently being conducted, and any cross-department data sharing agreements that are already in place. Identify areas of redundancy where the same data points are being collected multiple times or where similar data sets cannot be easily aligned because of relatively minor differences in formatting (e.g. variable spellings or abbreviations among common items in drop-down lists). Examine some of the best practices being used in other states, federal agencies, and private sector companies to compare with the ways in which Missouri is currently operating in order to establish a common understanding around the nature of the current industry standard.
  • Create a plan for demonstration projects – Starting with the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations and the various other departments with which it already has data sharing agreements in place, identify several specific opportunities to advance the alignment of existing data in order to improve services to state residents. Analyze existing data use agreements and laws to determine the level and type of security necessary to support recommended processes and procedures for accessing data. Focus on projects that can be brought to fruition in less than one year, that will improve the public’s experience of interacting with government, and that will enhance the results that state programs achieve for the public. Develop plans for providing information via public data portals. Develop plans for implementing those projects and ensuring buy-in among all key internal and external stakeholders for those plans. Support the roll-out of these initiatives and document the strategies used, successes achieved, areas of learning, and opportunities for improvement.
  • Communicate successes and highlight impacts – Help create a communications strategy focusing across state departments, the legislature, and the public that will document successful projects and disseminate their achievements. Build momentum for future efforts by highlighting the return on investment in terms of dollar saved and time saved as well as improvements in program outcomes. In this way, it is hoped that the Fellow will help facilitate a shift in culture and promote a more data-driven mindset across state government.
  • Increase external resources and internal capacity – Work through existing relationships with academic institutions and other non-governmental collaborators, while identifying new partnerships with public and private organizations that might help expand the states’ capabilities. Develop plans for potentially expanding the state’s internal capacity to sustain and expand on this work after the fellowship ends, potentially including the future creation of new positions, teams, or interdepartmental bodies within state government. This includes a proposed funding structure to support these new positions, teams or interdepartmental bodies. Develop plans for training and continued education in the field of data science. 

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Drew Erdmann, Chief Operating Officer, State of Missouri
  • Jeffrey Wann, Chief Information Officer, State of Missouri
  • Anna Hui, Director, Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, State of Missouri
  • Tammy Cavender, Deputy Director, Department of Labor & Industrial Relations
  • Sarah Steelman, Commissionerof the Office of Administration, State of Missouri
  • Other Cabinet level appointees and staff

QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a background in data science, change management, consulting, operations and/or systems building.
  • Deep understanding of data collection, analysis and utilization, with experience developing business cases for transformational projects.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, including an ease with public presentations and the ability to translate and synthesize complex, technical information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills, with the ability to develop and articulate clear strategic plans within a large and complex set of competing priorities.
  • Strong record of success engaging a wide variety of cross-sector stakeholders, particularly leaders in the public sector. Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with varying goals and motives using strong emotional intelligence and empathy to establish trust-based relationships.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, intrapreneurial leader who is an independent worker, resourceful in coming up with novel solutions to complex problems, persistent in obtaining information, and able to create direction and movement within ambiguous environments.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity and sensitivity to cultural differences.

 

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