The original story is available here and has been republished with permission.
Even with the stumbles that have occurred in standing up a national system for sharing pandemic-related health data, it has been far more successful than previous efforts to share data between levels of government—or across government agencies at the same level.
This report offers a rich description of what intergovernmental data sharing can offer by describing a range of federal, state, and local data sharing initiatives in various policy arenas, such as social services, transportation, health, and criminal justice.
The report identifies seven common challenges that serve as barriers to more effective data sharing. It uses insights developed from the range of case studies to identify key factors for successful intergovernmental data sharing, such as committed leadership, effective processes, and data quality. It then offers a set of recommendations to guide government officials on ways they could undertake data sharing initiatives, along with specific action steps they could take. For example, establishing an “ask once” goal for government data collection in order to reduce burdens on the public and businesses.
We hope this report provides leaders at all levels of government a roadmap that they can use to improve service delivery to the public and businesses, make better decisions about resource allocation in programs, and operate more seamlessly in serving citizens.
Download the report from here.
Here's an extract from the blog post on this report. The original blog post is available here.
Most Data Linking Strategies Also Leverage Digital Services. Wiseman found that the best government data sharing initiatives have a compelling vision of how data can be useful to transform operations – and are dove-tailed with the government’s digital service initiatives. She points to the Republic of Singapore as a leading example of how this is being done. There, the government has created a seamless and customer-oriented government. It provides a one-stop access for citizens to more than 300 digital government services from 110 different government agencies.
She observes that the role of the federal government is to start where it has – by defining a vision, principles, practices, and creating a governance framework (e.g., data sharing agreements, ethics, chief data officers), inventorying existing data, and setting standards. It has the ability to take on these tasks absent an urgent and compelling need.
However, state and local governments – because of limited resources -- tend undertake data sharing only when there is a compelling need to share data – emergency response, natural disasters, COVID response, floods, the opioid epidemic, etc. However, they have learned that if you wait until you need the data, it is too late, because data collection, quality, and standardization efforts typically take years to cobble together. States and localities, however, are often more willing to support digital service investments that can show more immediate value to citizens. That is why linking data sharing to digital service transformation can help accelerate both.
Recommendations. Based on the findings from the relevant literature, expert interviews, and the case studies, Wiseman offers four recommendations to advance intergovernmental data sharing that extend beyond the existing Federal Data Strategy:
- Congress and the president should create a policy and governance framework. They should define a broad data and digital excellence vision, with incentives to act, and a strong data governance structure that include states and localities. This would include actions such as establishing an “ask once” goal for data collection, rewarding agencies that link their data sets, and creating intergovernmental data councils.
- Congress and the president should establish funding and capacity building mechanisms to support implementation of increased data sharing across all levels of government. This would include actions such as supporting data literacy efforts in federal agencies and among federal leaders, funding for data sharing projects, and resources to improve data quality.
- The non-profit and philanthropic sectors should proactively support intergovernmental data sharing efforts. This would include actions such as providing incentives to innovate and link different sources or types of data between the federal, state and local levels, and supporting information exchange networks.
- Agency managers and data leaders at all levels of government should champion data sharing efforts. This would include actions such as articulating and creating a shared vision for data sharing, establishing shared data standards and protocols, and sponsoring communities of practice for data enthusiasts.
The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the urgency of investing in a national data collection effort. Performance data pioneer, Beth Blauer, and epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo recently noted in a New York Times op ed that eight months into the pandemic “there is still no federal standard to ensure testing results are being uniformly reported. Without uniform results, it is impossible to track cases accurately or respond effectively.” Without a national standard, states have developed their own approaches. Efforts like Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center try to standardize where possible, but overall, the national numbers are inconsistent. This hinders policymakers’ ability to smartly allocate resources, such as the vaccine, to where they will do the most good. Based on lessons from this effort, the incoming Biden Administration can leverage the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis to build on the foundation put in place by the architects of the Federal Data Strategy – and create a Golden Age of Data Sharing!