The Starting Point for Better Government

October 27, 2022 by Meredith Trimble

The Starting Point for Better Government

Many governments are now moving toward an enterprise approach to data. By bringing data together from multiple departments and systems, they can create a single source of truth, facilitate data sharing and collaboration, improve visibility into program performance, and support better decision-making. These efforts provide a real-time view of how government is functioning, enabling agencies to solve problems quicker and be more responsive to constituents.

The right technology is the key to the public sector’s enterprise data approach. Modern data platforms can pull together information from siloed systems and make it easily usable by decision-makers, residents, and other stakeholders. These platforms not only provide a foundation for data sharing, but also facilitate the cultural shifts necessary for data-driven decision-making across an organization.

The city of Stockton, California, provides a useful example of how attending to the data already at hand through an enterprise platform can lead to success, particularly in the area of performance measurement.

Stockton’s Starting Point With Data

In May 2020, just three months after he joined the City of Stockton and two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, City Manager Harry Black launched his brainchild, the Office of Performance and Data Analytics (OPDA). “Building out OPDA during COVID meant we could capitalize on the city’s accelerated use of technology and the community’s increased expectation of access to city data,” explained Katie Regan, director of the office.

The Office of Performance and Data Analytics leads multiple initiatives for the city that make up an integrated performance management system, including strategic planning, StocktonStat, an innovation lab (iLab), and open data.

“The strategic plan sets the foundation for performance metrics, then those metrics go into regular StocktonStat meetings where we relentlessly follow up to see how trends are mapping out across the city,” Regan said. The iLab focuses on process improvement emphasizing community-facing services where performance is most important. Finally, the open data initiative provides transparency on city performance and seeks to engage the public with both a data catalog and “data stories” that bring data to life for city residents. The open data portal, for example, provides mapping tools that can display services provided near a resident’s home or workplace.

Now up to three employees, Regan’s team includes an analyst and a software engineer who have increased the office’s capabilities. This team works to position performance management as a way to make better and more data-informed decisions. With current and comprehensive information, for instance, departments can link resources to outcomes and gain support for programs.

“Data is an incredible starting point for conversation,” Regan noted, “but it’s never the end of it.”

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