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3 More Reasons Why Data is a State and Local Government Priority

Three new federal laws will drive state and local governments to collect and analyze more information to prove programs are working and funds are being spend effectively.

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Three new federal laws will drive state and local governments to collect and analyze more information to prove programs are working and funds are being spend effectively. Not only will these measures impact how agencies run major programs in social services, justice and other areas, they could also drive demand for new data management solutions.

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act will push major federally funded programs toward greater use of evidence and data to guide policymaking. Signed into law in January, it requires federal agencies to appoint a chief evaluation officer, create an evaluation policy and implement evidence-building plans. The measure implements key recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking designed to let policymakers and researchers securely share and analyze data generated by federal programs to understand outcomes and effectiveness. The law could trigger new data collection requirements and policy changes for state and local agencies that administer federally funded programs.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act requires states to begin collecting and analyzing data on racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. Under the act, which became law in December, states must collect racial disparity data and develop specific strategies to address inequalities. If they don’t, they’ll risk losing federal funding that helps them collect data on juvenile crime. Currently, all but three states — Connecticut, Nebraska and Wyoming — receive such funding. States and localities likely will need help from industry partners to meet these new data requirements.

The Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act provides $100 million over the next 10 years to expand the use of pay-for-success initiatives in state and local government. These funds are available for state and local governments implementing programs that produce defined and rigorously-measured outcomes and cost savings. The measure, which passed as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, offers support for projects in 20 areas, including child welfare, family stability, education, health, employment, recidivism and veterans — with 20 percent of the money designated for programs targeting women and children. The act provides even more incentive for agencies to move toward evidence-based programs and services that produce real and measurable outcomes—but they’ll need to develop the data skills to design and evaluate such programs.

All three of these new measures strengthen a trend toward outcomes-based funding and data-driven decision-making. As agencies push in this direction, they’re seeking technologies and expertise that enable them to manage, interpret and evaluate growing volumes of information. These needs are reflected in e.Republic’s most recent state, city and county technology surveys, where data and analytics are among the top-10 priorities.

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