Creating a Culture of Accountability Using Advanced Technologies in Data and Analytics for Government Departments

Government departments have never had to account for their expenditure more than they do today, especially in the light of having huge pressures to deliver maximum value with limited funds. These pressures and challenges must be understood by all levels of the department with clear communication around the mission and giving employees, but especially at the C-suite level, access to relevant data on their performance and the overall performance of the department. Accountability is, therefore, a 360-degree exercise where all activities, work, projects, and outcomes are scrutinized to ensure they deliver value.

Fostering a Culture of Accountability

In government, or indeed any organization, a culture of accountability can be created with performance valued at all levels through data and leadership. It is crucial that through leadership the mission is clearly communicated and the data that is used to define success is readily available and easily accessed. This data must be available in real time to the C-suite, especially for example to gauge response times and budgets for public work activities such as pothole repairs, landscape maintenance or roadworks. Over the course of a year, the data gathered can be analyzed to identify how many potholes were repaired, how long it took to repair them and whether any allocated budget was under or overspent.

If public works staff and managers had access to that data daily via a bespoke dashboard, they could compare how the work completed to date compares against previous years, the cost per repair, the total cost and the time to repair each pothole compared to the previous year. What’s more, a forecast for the end of the year that shows these variables can be produced and staff would be able to assess their performance, mission progress and capacity for making much-needed improvements throughout the year, rather than waiting until the end of the year.

This data-driven approach delivers continuous improvement and optimization of resources within government departments, thus allowing for greater accountability.

How can Government Departments Utilize Advanced Technologies?

Government departments can utilize advanced technologies, deliver continuous improvement and optimize their resources to allow for greater accountability in many ways. Using data integration through data quality software, accounting system data, financial data, work order system data, budget data and planning data a complete picture can be created of cost and performance. Dashboards that are supported by business intelligence and reporting technology can display key performance indicators and how they relate to the overall mission of each public department. This data can be used to forecast future costs and performance using analytics, with these forecasts being able to inform better decisions about adjustments to staff and budget resources to optimize resources and improve performance going forward departments can take advantage of further advancing their data use, such as being able to predict future potholes based on road use, or analysis of prioritizing pothole repair so potholes in dangerous locations or that feature heavy road use can be classed as high priority when being fixed.

The concept of data and analytics in government departments is not new, and many leading technology companies have successfully built their business models around this. Local government departments have looked at introducing innovative technologies and services based on the extraction of information from data collected. This has been hailed as the beginning of a new area in government, and it has been suggested that it could help government departments move towards a model of service delivery where the quality and quantity of commissioned services are underpinned by data intelligence.

Government agencies around the world are looking to take utilize the advances in data and analytics, and use enabling and emerging technologies to help improve the way they serve the general public through improving their services.

How Government Departments and Businesses Collide

Many of the technologies and techniques now used by government departments are almost identical to ones used by businesses to better understand and respond to the needs of their customers. An example of this is in retail, where substantial amounts of customer data is managed and analyzed to help gain insights into the behavior of their customers from everything to brand preferences through to geographical differences in buying and decision making. Government agencies can use similar techniques using data and analytics to find out more about what the public wants as well as how and where they want those things e.g. better roads and improved garbage collections.

Government agencies are now able to consolidate huge quantities of data through advanced technologies to learn more about what works and what doesn’t for them. This can help ensure that public programs of work are far more effective in meeting the general public needs. Given how expectations are growing from the public for government departments to be much more accountable for what they spend and how they spend it, government agencies and departments must ensure large improvements in both their effectiveness and efficiency by:

  • Managing the public’s information by data cleansing of large sets for accuracy, identifying relevant patterns and uncovering contextual relevance of data.
  • Centrally controlling and creating all public communications by delivering appropriate government messages to the right individuals and via their preferred communication channels.
  • Mapping geographical data by looking at insights related to specific locations to enable more stable decision making.

From probable causes of high disease rates in certain geographical areas to transportation and housing issues, government agencies are now able to consolidate all their data using advanced technologies to be more accountable to the public they serve. Government organizations are the keepers of a huge amount of data and information, and this can come from a wide range of sources including:

  • Property tax and income tax forms
  • Voter registrations
  • Motor vehicle registrations
  • Arrest records
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Court proceedings
  • General correspondence

Just one person can have their data stored in tens or even hundreds of government databases – from their local recreational department issuing swimming pool passes to the national income tax bureau. To improve and maintain the accuracy of the data they hold, government agencies must focus on integrating their data with technology.

Case Study: U.S. Federal Agency

A U.S. Federal agency had just installed a new online registration service for some of their licensing programs. They had an immediate need for an easy to use process to help them validate names and addresses to help avoid duplication. As they were operating under tight budget constraints, the Federal agency was concerned about the number of people who had registered for a license more than once or in more than one US state. They needed a way of handling address cleansing and duplication because without an efficient way to handle this it faced potential increased costs as well as confusion due to managing multiple registrations for the same person.

Enhancing the Quality of Government Data

There are other data problems within government that can be resolved using advanced technologies, such as having plenty of data, but not being able to analyze it to see relevant patterns. Social Service agencies, for example, often collect lots of data from the public, often because of asking associated questions on different forms. As each of these forms may have been designed to help determine eligibility for specific programs, the information on one form may not be the same as on another one that asks similar information.

The importance of data quality and the concept of building a strong platform that serves the public across jurisdictions and agencies is key, as often information resides in different databases across multiple platforms, social services programs and agencies. For this data to be analyzed and integrated, individual data records must be matched and to match them the data needs to be cleansed and validated with the information that is already held.

Having a data quality initiative may be the only way to ensure that data used and shared by multiple programs and agencies will be actionable and accurate, and there are many software tools available that help with standardizing and normalizing the data that government departments already holds.

To Book to Attend our CDAO Government and to Find out More

During our CDAO Government event from May 30th to May 31st, you will be able to learn more about utilizing advanced technologies in data and analytics, and about justifying and proving the value of investing in data analysis technologies. During our event you will be able to find out more about identifying the right analytic tools for the problems government departments face and communicating the huge value of predictive analytics to encourage organization-wide participation while remaining accountable when spending public money.

To find out more and to book please visit


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