, ,

Government and Analytics: A Brief Overview

The explosion in the amount of data generated each year has led many leaders in the public sector to re-think how they collect, store, and analyze data. Numerous government agencies are using analytics, to help sort through all of that data and gain insights that will ultimately help them improve upon the work that they’re doing.

Analytics can be defined as “the extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory and predictive models, and fact-based management to drive decisions and actions.” (i) During this time of thinly stretched budgets and calls for more government accountability, the use of analytics can help agencies do more with less, providing valuable information about the processes and programs that are working and those that may need to be changed or scrapped completely. Agency leaders can use what they’ve learned through data analysis to make budgetary and other decisions, and to provide the public with details concerning the rationale behind such decisions.

Given the reality of budget constraints and a seemingly endless supply of data, the advantages of using analytics are clear. A fully developed analytics system, however, does not simply appear overnight. Agencies need money, staff, appropriate data and technology, supportive leadership, and a goal or target, to really make the best use of analytics. Leaders need to work to integrate analytics into the work and culture of their respective agencies, and need to encourage cooperation between agencies and partnerships with outside organizations, when needed.

Brief Case Studies

Government agencies use analytics for a multitude of reasons. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Medicare, and Medicaid programs have all used analytics – Medicare to assist in disease management efforts, states to combat Medicaid fraud, and the VHA to provide evidence-based medicine. The U.S. Army has used supply chain analytics to create a more agile, fast-moving supply chain, while other branches of the military have used human resource analytics to help with recruitment.

State and federal level tax agencies are using analytics in four main areas – revenue analysis, compliance systems, fraud detection, and taxpayer customer services – in efforts to deliver financial benefits while also improving their public image. Finally, intelligence agencies use analytics to obtain information from intercepted communications, radars, or data transmissions; capture various types of images; and much more. (ii)

(i) Davenport, T. H., & Jarvenpaa, S. L. (2008). The Strategic Use of Analytics in Government. Page 58.

(ii) These case studies are from the report listed above.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply