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The Age of Analytics

“In the face of mounting complexity, smarter, collaborative, fact-based decisions are more important than ever to drive results.” –IBM

Public sector offices receive a substantial amount of data. The question is…what can they do with it? How can an agency use the information that comes its way to make the best decisions and best benefit the public?

Today, more and more governments are taking a results-oriented approach to make fact-based decisions. In fact, IBM recently produced a study for how the use of analytics can help public sector offices make informed decisions.

There is a shift from measuring outputs to measuring outcomes—an example being the move from measuring how many families have been served to tracking how many families are above the poverty level as a result of a program.

Analytics goes beyond reporting and provides the means to sort through information and help governments respond.

According to IBM’s study, organizations must:

1. Focus on outcomes to move beyond issues

2. Orient the management of information around its use

3. Use analytics-enabled insights to meet specific objectives

4. Model and embed analytics discipline in management practices.

So how are different levels of government using analytics to make informed decisions?

In 2002, the Gwinnett County (Georgia) Public School system faced falling student performance and graduation rates. Through the use of analytics, administrators found that there was a link between algebra performance and graduation statistics. They also found that the performance of eighth grade creative writing had an impact on a student’s algebra performance. Gwinnett County schools focused efforts to aid students in succeeding in creative writing, and as a result, both algebra performance and graduation statistics improved. All thanks to the use of analytics.

According to IBM, The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance annually processes 24 million business and personal tax returns and collects more than $90 billion in state and local tax payments. The department had to know which refunds should not be paid, which tax returns should be audited and investigated and what impact did noncompliance from improper payments and fraud have on those who were complying? These are extremely important questions that are key to knowing how to collect the right amount of tax revenue. Analytics have saved the state more than $889 million, while allowing it to process refunds faster.

Learn more about what IBM has found and how it is utilizing this smarter use of data.