Last month, Government Technology reported that the state of Ohio was nearly set to open up the data analytics playing field with an RFP meant to attract smaller, more agile service providers. While the official request has not yet been made public, Gov. John Kasich's office has attached some specifics to its data analytics plans, targeting the state’s most pressing issues.
The state's recently released plan includes critical areas like education, transportation, public health and safety and the identification of fraud, waste and abuse. (See a complete list below) The initiative will mean more data tools focused on the what state officials call the “complex problems” facing government. “Sorting through computer loads of seemingly obscure numbers and unemotional statistics, data analytics may appear far removed from the lives and concerns of everyday Ohioans. Yet the clues it reveals can help the state address some of Ohio’s greatest challenges, such as infant mortality, child welfare, opiate addiction, persistent poverty, and school dropout rates,” the governor’s office said in the release. “By addressing challenges like these in a more focused, purposeful way, the next level of data analytics will give state policymakers and stakeholders a deeper understanding of those issues, pointing toward strategic areas of focus and lasting solutions.” In Ohio, the push for access to clearer, cleaner data sets will mean consolidating more than 1,600 systems before the data contained within them can be leveraged.
As state CIO Stu Davis explained in December, the purpose of the overarching RFP is to help consolidate the technological resources available to the agencies and departments at all levels of state government.
Ohio plans to hit the following program areas with data analytics:
“As the state CIO, I have been extremely restrictive to the agencies about data analytics because I don’t want them to buy their own tools. The value of real predictive analytics is pulling in data from multiple agencies, not just a single agency. What I would have is 26 data analytics platforms with 26 different tools, …” Davis said at the time.
While the larger data initiative is focused on broad-stroke improvements to the state’s data analytics toolsets, agencies like the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) will soon be launching a data project to help them better manage child welfare cases.
The ODJFS tool will feed data into a predetermined algorithm to better monitor the risks posed by certain situations. One such example would be an address change by a parent or guardian that indicates a child would share a residence with a former offender. The event would lead to a higher risk score, which would trigger caseworkers to initiate increased oversight. Officials are hopeful that the approach will result in more effective case management across the board.