At a leadership conference for state and local government IT executives last November, Beth Blauer described Maryland’s use of StateStat. The technology measures various efficiency levels in government and has been the catalyst to a new culture of collaboration among Maryland agencies. Blauer entered Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in 2002 after a short stint practicing law. She rose quickly in state government, earning her the director position in Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office in 2008.
Can you describe StateStat in a nutshell?
We digest big data sets from all the state agencies. We have a team of analysts that receives that data on a regular basis — mostly monthly, sometimes biweekly. We take that data, do some analysis on it, and produce briefing materials for the governor and his senior team that depicts the data, charts, graphs and maps. We then use that as a platform for a meeting we have with the cabinet secretaries that the governor and his senior team engage in where we discuss the data and use it to drive performance among the state agencies.
What elements of performance do you measure?
They are standardized performance metrics we get from all the state agencies. That includes basic operational data. That could be overtime, or the average time it takes the agencies to report injuries, expenditure data or data that rolls into the regular budget oversight.
What surprised you about this project?
One of the most surprising things was the agencies weren’t sharing data with one another when they had a lot of subject matter that overlapped. Take public safety as an example. Our Division of Parole and Probation wasn’t sharing information with our Department of Juvenile Services. However, they had a clientele or group of individuals who were fluidly moving between their systems. They were each independently providing services or oversight for people and they weren’t talking to each other. There were some limitations on their ability to exchange information, but a lot of it was perception and not necessarily reality.
How did you get past resistance from entrenched agency management?
The key for that was leadership. The governor came from Baltimore where he was mayor and focused on performance management. When he came to state government, we all knew that StateStat was going to be implemented. We were going to be doing a major shift in performance management. When he selected his cabinet, it was something he emphasized, and it’s something he continues to emphasize as he leads the state forward.