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Carnegie Mellon Program to Train Government How to Use Data

A new certification program aims to prepare public-sector technology leaders to make their organizations more data-driven, evidence-based and responsive, with a focus on data management, digital innovation and AI.

Carnegie Mellon University has launched a new certification program to train government leaders and data professionals to build data-driven organizations, an announcement last week said.

According to the university, the new Public Interest Technology Certificate (PITC) program will train students to navigate the complexities of digital transformation and introducing artificial intelligence into their networks as day-to-day operations become increasingly tech-integrated across public-sector industries.

“In talking with our government partners, we became aware of an acute talent shortage in the public sector — government leaders who can build evidence-based, data-driven organizations,” said Jackie Speedy, associate dean of the university’s School of Public Policy and Management, in an email to Government Technology. “We have Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) faculty experts paired with government practitioners to deliver the content with an orientation specific to government to address the unique challenges and opportunities therein.”

Speedy said the goal of the new program is to help government organizations gain the talent needed to meet requirements outlined in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, which mandates that federal agency data be accessible and that agencies develop statistical evidence to support policymaking. She said the program’s curriculum is designed for emerging tech leaders who want a grounding in data management, digital innovation and AI. Candidates must present a minimum of five years of relevant experience in careers with managerial responsibilities.

“Government leaders need to build skills to gain expertise in data management, digital innovation and AI leadership — with realizable organizational change to create a more efficient, transparent and inclusive government,” Speedy said, noting a recent rise in demand among CIOs and other tech leaders for upskilling programs at CMU. “Our approach with this program is not to turn leaders into technicians; rather, we want them to gain a better understanding of how to build, operate and mature these capabilities over time in their organizations. ... By having a greater appreciation of the technology, government leaders will be able to better manage this skilled workforce to fast-track fundamental policy and cultural transformations to accelerate benefits.”

Elaborating on the purpose of the program, Speedy added that Carnegie Mellon University is a charter member of the newly established Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), which formalizes a commitment among educational institutions “to better integrate technology, public policy, ethics and governance in a way that generates public benefits and promotes the public good.”

“With this certificate, we are training the managers in government who will create more career opportunities for public-interest technologists, including our master’s degree graduates. We see this program as part of our mission of the public policy school to positively impact the public sector,” Speedy said.

According to program faculty Chris Goranson, the program aims to prepare tomorrow’s CIOs to use digital technology to make government more efficient and responsive.

“Providing better products, services and policies that promote the public good is an important aspect of modern digital service teams. This certificate program is designed to empower government employees with the knowledge and resources necessary to transform government from within,” Goranson said in a public statement. “If we want a government that is more responsive to our needs, we have to find ways to equip and empower those who already know how the gears and levers of government work. This certificate program is one important step towards doing just that.”

The inaugural program will begin in August 2022.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.