Washington, D.C.—The United States faces a myriad of seemingly intractable policy dilemmas, from reducing environmental contamination to delivering affordable and reliable health care to providing quality education for all our children. Advances in information technologies, however, provide the opportunity to revolutionize the way government makes decisions and greatly enhance our ability to address these problems, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress, “Governing by the Numbers: The Promise of Data-Driven Policymaking in the Information Age.”
“Imagine if we could pinpoint environmental hazards in real time at the neighborhood level, draw detailed comparisons among health care providers, or measure the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs across school districts,” said Reece Rushing, director of regulatory and information policy at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report with Daniel C. Esty, professor of environmental law and policy at Yale University. “Data like this would enable us to zero in on our biggest problems and expand top-performing approaches while dramatically improving transparency and accountability. New information technologies provide an incredible opportunity to close gaps in our knowledge and sharpen policymaking.”
Currently, federal policymaking suffers from persistent data gaps, a lack of systematic analysis, and poor information management and dissemination. The CAP report recommends that we harness information technologies to address these problems and implement data-driven government.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a leading practitioner of data-driven government, will speak today at the CAP release event for the report. As mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley implemented a data-tracking system called CitiStat that is credited with saving tens of millions of dollars while dramatically improving city programs and services. Recently sworn in as governor of Maryland, O’Malley just signed legislation into law to implement StateStat, which like CitiStat will allow the governor to quantitatively monitor the performance of state agencies to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
“Using performance-based and data-based measurement in the City of Baltimore, we were able to improve public safety and public services while saving taxpayers more than $350 million,” O’Malley said. “Today, we are applying these same principles of accurate and timely information shared by all, rapid deployment of resources, and effective tactics and strategies to help us make our state government in Maryland more accountable and efficient and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”
CAP is also releasing a paper describing O’Malley’s approach, titled “The CitiStat Model: How Data-Driven Government Can Increase Efficiency & Effectiveness.”
“At the federal level, we have gotten away from good government principles,” said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center. “Cronyism, increased secrecy, and special-interest influence peddling are all on the rise—frequently producing disastrous real-life consequences for the American people. We believe the sort of approach adopted by Gov. O’Malley is exactly the medicine we need to re-establish competent government that is responsive to the needs of its people.”
Click here to read the CAP report: Governing by the Numbers: The Promise of Data-Driven Policymaking in the Information Age (pdf).
Click here to read the paper about Gov. O’Malley’s innovation: The CitiStat Model: How Data-Driven Government Can Increase Efficiency & Effectiveness (pdf).