This article was originally posted by Dan Chenok on the IBM Center for the Business of Government blog.
In a panel discussion led by the Partnership’s Judy England-Joseph, three government leaders detailed the lessons learned from their experience that can help other agencies in the sound use of analytics to make decisions. Specifically:
- Social Security Administration (SSA) – Gerald Ray runs the Disability Appeals process. He observed that the disability review process required significant knowledge of regulatory compliance as well as the specifics of each individual case. SSA used analytics to pinpoint training improvements needed to make the review process much more effective in terms of faster and more accurate results for the individuals seeking a review. As a result, the agency was able to accelerate training time frames, provide the right information to review staff, and achieve measurable improvements in service.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Malcolm Bertoni helps lead FDA reviews of drug applications that are critically important to get valuable medical services into the market to help people, while ensuring safety and effectiveness of those drugs. FDA used analytics to improve the efficiency and accuracy of their reviews, and Malcolm offered several lessons learned for other agencies:
- Know your objective in terms of program improvement – what is the compelling business need? This will help address compliance responsibly, rather than being hamstrung by compliance requirements.
- Address how the leaders of the analytics program can help catalyze the entire team to focus on good implementation – find the champions and allow them to help others.
- Think of pilots, build on success, and be clear about results so that the program and affected public know the results of these analytics-driven results.
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – Dan Liddell is a senior advisor for performance. He focused on creating an analytics program to help achieve TSA’s mission of protecting the travelling public. TSA leveraged data to understand the performance needs of all the government partners who work alongside TSA in an airport. TSA also focused on the training needs to ensure that government agencies are equipped to deliver strong performance. This led to the identification of hundreds of unique skills to assess and understand the efficacy of different approaches to training that lead to higher productivity – enabling TSA to test the results of improvements. More importantly, this approach enabled TSA to build a stronger team-oriented approach to achieving results.
In a Q&A after the discussion, the audience (mostly government innovators themselves) asked some hard questions about the road forged by these three innovators that are also important for other agencies to address. These included:
- the importance of working with unions early where unions are key for Federal employees;
- understanding what is most important to measure, given limited resources;
- adapting the analytics program to when changes occur in agency leadership;
- finding key change agents across the organization who can make a collaborative initiative successful;
- taking care to ensure that data are showing actual outcomes, not ones that are tailored to support a pre-existing position;
- addressing what changes in policy are indicated by analytics, in addition to process improvements.
In addition to the knowledge shared by these three federal leaders, on our website, we provide a series of podcast interviews with other federal executives on how they are using data and analytics to carry out a wide range of missions, such as: preventing and countering tax fraud, improving training, responding to emergencies, protecting investors, keeping food safe, and more. The podcasts provide insights into the essential ingredients for a successful analytics program, and offer advice from leaders whose agencies are benefiting from analyzing data. Instrumental to the podcast success was IBM’s Brian Murrow, an expert on strategy and analytics, along with the Partnership team led by Lara Shane.
Federal leaders profiled in our podcasts (a segment of their interviews are included below) lead complex programs in some of the agencies in government that have greatest impact on citizens, who benefit greatly from leveraging data as a strategic asset in program operations. These leaders include:
- Gerald Ray, Social Security Administration
- Dean Silverman, Internal Revenue Service
- Carter Hewgley, Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Malcom Bertoni, Food and Drug Administration
- Lisa Danzig, Office of Management and Budget
- Lori Walsh, Securities and Exchange Commission
- Steve Beltz, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (coming October 8)
The IBM Center hopes that the results of this ongoing collaboration with the Partnership helps agencies continue to enhance their ability to leverage analytics in a way that improves mission results.
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