Data Collection Becomes More Important As Cost Cutting Increase – Survey

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
November 15, 2011 /

More than 70 percent of federal government managers believe budgetary cost constraints are increasing the importance of data collection to make decisions about their programs, though 58 percent of respondents report that using the data externally in a “meaningful” way remains challenging, according to a new study by the Government Business Council and Deloitte.

“Information is currency in both business and government; but the research found that many federal agencies don’t have reliable data readily available, even as there are difficult financial decisions looming,” said Erin Dian Dumbacher, associate director of research at GBC.

“The study shows that 45 percent of managers say that their agencies are engaging in preditictive analytics, yet fewer than one third assess the quality of their data for accuracy,” Dumbacher added.

The research findings of current government data analysis and data-based decision making practices draws upon the recently-published study, “Demanding More, Federal Agencies’ Data Use to Drive Mission and Meet Mandates,” which is based on focus groups data and a survey which included senior-level federal employees from Senior Executive Service to GS/GM level 11.

Additional key report findings include complicated processes, insufficient technical and staff resources are contributing to limited and inconsistent data collection in federal agencies.

Many agency leaders are unable to plan for the increasingly diverse demands from Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Government Accountability Office (GAO) and other departments. Nearly half of the survey participants are having trouble making data both accessible and actionable.

Given the challenges of collection, many managers are unlikely to use data to determine cost-savings or take a closer look at their programs or functions.

More than half (56 percent) of the respondents agreed that their agency or program may consider downsizing the federal workforce in order to achieve cost-savings, while only 23 percent of respondents said they will resort to data analysis to review the outcomes of programs, reduce improper payments or consolidate their business systems.

“Analytics can help agencies extract real value out of their existing data and can reveal under-performing programs, fraud, waste, and abuse,” said Brad Eskind, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and federal technology and analytics leader.

“Analyzing data can help agencies uncover these kinds of insights and realize important savings. Preemptive steps like this can help agencies allocate their limited resources more effectively, make more strategic cuts, and emerge as leaner and more effective organizations,” Eskind said.


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