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Turning Data into Decisions – Why Metrics Matter

The best way to maximize performance is to make data based decisions. But that process is easier said than done…or is it?

John Salamone is the Vice President at Federal Management Partners. Salomone and Rick Hartman have written a new guide, Catching the Social Media Wave: Using Data to Drive Decisions. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that it is up to managers and the agency leadership to get control of the data.

“I’ve been watching the recent budget discussions and it is clear that a lot of what is being driven is coming from the administration and congressional levels. I think it is important to know at the agency level what data is out there and available and then figure out what is usable and what can be kicked aside,” said Salamone.

GPRA Modernization

“GIPRA modernization is going to change the way agencies look at information, the way they write their strategic plans and the way they report information back to OMB.” A good example:

  • When I was looking through the budget document the President just submitted there was an interesting paragraph from the National Intelligence Program. The National Intelligence Program reflects a deliberate process to ensure the intelligence community focuses on those programs that have the most significant returns and terminates or reduces those that are considered lower priority programs.
  • The NIC budget reflects the approach we are taking from a program standpoint. You have to know what data to measure, so that you can defend your programs and if you can’t then you should not be able to continue performing those functions in the agency because budgets will be cut.

The Role of the Dashboard

  • NASA makes such a concentrated effort in the strategic plan and also their website to have good indicators and goals around social media. So the fact that they are the number one agency in the OhMyGov data pool aligns with the time and money they spend.

  • Dashboards have a tremendous value for government going forward.
  • What OPM is trying to do with their HR Stat Initiative to find strategic measures of success for human capital. They can then use it to get a sense of the overall health of government human capital across government.

The Power of Social Media

“Social media plays A role. What it can do is supplement for instance agency customer service satisfaction data,” said Salamone. For example:

  • The National Parks Service could cull social media data to find out what people are saying out the parks.
  • The Social Security Administration could find out from facebook or twitter how Congressional districts are doing in terms of quickly filing disability claims.

“Social media could be an element of an overreaching evaluation strategy that agencies can utilize to see the impact of programs even within specific communities,” said Salamone.

What Data Matters?

“A lot of those decisions are driven by the administration. GPRA modernization requires the administration to develop cross-agency goals. Those goals can align with strategic priorities with certain agencies,” said Salamone.

Rely On the Program Managers

“Agencies do need to rely on the program managers at the program level to identify what those strategic measures of success are for each program. They can then inform the strategic planning process for the agency and they can ensure cross-agency collaboration,” said Salamone.

Measure Performance

“We are at a critical juncture right now – budgets are tight and they are going to stay that way – so we are going to have to look at innovative ways to align programs. GAO talks about overlap and duplication a lot. (You can see our interview with GAO here) We are running massively high deficits and we have to figure out ways to streamline. Not just cutting programs for the sake of cutting programs,” said Salamone.

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