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Taking a Peek Inside North Carolina's Government Data Analytics Center

The center's director, John Correllus, details the center’s current work and provide a few hints about what’s next.

Those unfamiliar with North Carolina’s analytics center might benefit from taking a peek. The state’s Government Data Analytics Center (GDAC) is an anomaly in an otherwise rote world of state bureaucracies. In 2014 Gov. Pat McCrory tasked it with the progressive and far-reaching mission to be the analytics hub for all state agencies and their more than 64,000 employees.

This elevated authority has ferried the center from its original work at the State Controller’s Office and into the Office of Information Technology Services. Since the transition, GDAC’s analysis of shared data has led to more than $1 million in revenues from worker compensation fraud penalties, channeled data for insights between departments and achieved previously unattainable efficiencies. GDAC Director John Correllus spoke with us to detail the center’s current work and provide a few hints about what’s next.

1. How has GDAC’s move into the IT department impacted its work?

We have had overwhelming legislative support from inception, and Gov. McCrory recognized the value of analytics early in his administration. Under his leadership, and with the support of the General Assembly, GDAC was moved under the state CIO in order to make business intelligence and data analytics a more enterprisewide effort. This enables GDAC to identify opportunities where data sharing and integration can generate greater efficiencies and improved service delivery by state agencies, institutions and departments.

2. Are there plans for new tools or pilot programs?

We have many new programs, including developing a statewide and state-managed health information exchange, which will provide access to clinical information to all Medicaid providers.

We have other health-care initiatives underway — including a Medicaid analytics pilot — and we also are developing child welfare analytics to protect and ensure the safety of children across North Carolina. A complementary initiative just underway is focused on juvenile justice, leveraging data and analytics to reduce recidivism through early intervention. Another GDAC initiative is a statewide budget transparency site, which will provide public visibility into where tax dollars are going.

We also continue to focus on foundational activities such as master data management, governance, standards and data architectures. These elements are foundational to delivering a successful enterprise data management practice. Continuing to mature this foundation will support faster delivery to meet changing business needs, demands and policies.

3. Has GDAC been able to calculate some of the cost savings its analytics are providing departments?

Absolutely. A couple of examples of the benefits include work we’ve performed with the North Carolina Division of Employment Security and the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC). The NCIC is focused on ensuring employers’ compliance with maintaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In fiscal year 2015, NCIC tripled the amount [of penalty fines] collected the previous fiscal year, and had a fivefold increase over two years through the use of the fraud and compliance analytics out of GDAC.

4. What strategies and plans are in place to take GDAC into the future?

Very simply, the strategy has been to start small and think enterprise. This has allowed the organization to grow with each success to what it has become today. Our strategies have always been focused on business enablement and benefits.

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Emergency Management and Government Technology magazines.