Weaving together publicly held data sets holds great potential for making government more effective at serving the public. There’s no shortage of use cases: rooting out fraud and waste in social service programs, increasing revenue collection and connecting citizens with public services. The term getting all the buzz is “big data,” and the state getting much of the attention is Indiana.
Gov. Mike Pence wants state decisions to be data-driven, and he now has visible evidence of that commitment in the form of the Management and Performance Hub at the Indiana state Capitol. Opened in June, the hub is the physical space where data and performance indicators across agencies are united and analyzed in order to make programs more effective.
Indiana’s inaugural endeavor took on the state’s high infant mortality rate, aggregating 5 billion rows of social services, corrections and workforce development data. On the front lines of implementation alongside Pence are CIO Paul Baltzell and Office of Management and Budget Director Chris Atkins.
The initial analysis revealed that the strongest predictors of adverse birth outcomes are inadequate prenatal care, Medicaid enrollment and young maternal age. While these groups represent just 1.6 percent of the state’s births, they account for almost half of Indiana’s infant deaths. A dynamic Birth Outcome Risk Quantification tool lets the state target resources to the most vulnerable populations and track their effectiveness over time.
“By applying this tool to available data, Indiana can perform continuous analysis and find new ways to connect at-risk mothers with the resources that will support a positive birth outcome,” said a report released in January on the initiative.
The state sees potential to impact child fatality rates using these tools as well.
“Case workers in the field will have the capability to make data-driven decisions about a child’s welfare,” Baltzell said late last year. He named recidivism, economic development and cybersecurity as other areas where this data-driven approach could make a difference.
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.