Category Archives: Government

Strategic Use of Analytics in Government

Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Governments use analytics (often described as “business intelligence”) to enable and drive their strategies and performance in an ever more volatile and turbulent environment. Analytics and fact-based decision making can make a powerful contribution to the achievement of government missions, just as they are now making to the accomplishment of corporate business objectives.

In their report, Professors Davenport and Jarvenpaa explore several important applications of analytics in government agencies and develop an assessment framework for those that either have not yet embarked on the analytics journey or are still in the early stages. The report focuses on four governmental mission and management areas -health care, logistics, revenue management, and intelligence- to which analytics has been applied.

While the opportunities from analytics for improving efficiency and effectiveness in government appear limitless, there is much less clarity about the readiness of government to embrace analytics. While analytics is often depicted as a technological innovation, Davenport and Jarvenpaa are careful to point out that the use of analytics requires managerial innovation.

Full report (PDF; 717 KB)

One Size Fits Few: Using Customer Insight to Transform Government

Source: Deloitte

This study defines the emerging discipline of “customer strategy” in the 21st century, and shows how the insights of citizens can help your agency make more informed decisions, design and deliver more successful policies and programs, and improve customer service. In line or online, consumers of government services are savvier than ever. And citizens’ attitudes toward the public leaders that represent them are, in large part, shaped by the daily encounters they have with organizations like yours.

Full report

The REAL ID Act of 2005: Legal, Regulatory, and Implementation Issues

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In 2005, Congress addressed the issue of national standards for drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards by passing The REAL ID Act of 2005 (REAL ID). The act contains a number of provisions relating to improved security for drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards, as well as instructions for states that do not comply with its provisions. In general, while REAL ID does not directly impose federal standards with respect to states’ issuance of drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards, states nevertheless appear compelled to adopt such standards and modify any conflicting laws or regulations to continue to have such documents recognized by federal agencies for official purposes.

Both at the time that REAL ID was debated in Congress, and during the regulatory comment period, questions about the constitutionality of the statute have been raised. There have been four main constitutional arguments made against REAL ID. First, because REAL ID cannot be premised on Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce, it is a violation of states’ rights as protected by the Tenth Amendment. Second, the requirement that REAL IDs be used to board federally regulated aircraft impermissibly encroaches on citizens’ right to travel. Third, specific requirements such as the digital photograph potentially violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Finally, REAL ID infringes upon a citizen’s right under the First Amendment to freely assemble, associate, and petition the government.

Since its adoption in 2005, REAL ID has been a highly contested issue among state legislatures and governors. According to some advocacy groups, state and federal elected officials — including numerous commentators to the proposed regulations — and other interested parties, REAL ID imposes an unconstitutional “unfunded mandate” on the states. Prior to the publication of the proposed rule in 2007, however, there was little activity at the state-lawmaking level, primarily because officials were uncertain as to precisely what the implementation requirements were going to necessitate, either in terms of cost or potential changes to state law. Since the publication of the proposed rule in 2007, there has been a dramatic increase in state responses to REAL ID and its requirements. The final regulations were promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on January 29, 2008, and contain 280 pages of explanation as well as responses to over 21,000 comments. This report contains a summary description and analysis of several of the major elements of the REAL ID regulations.

Finally, this report will address REAL ID in relationship to other federal laws and identification programs. This report will be updated as events warrant.

Full report (PDF; 209 KB)

Grading the States 2008: A Management Report Card

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing Magazine, March 2008

Information is king. No single idea emerges more clearly from year-long research done for the 2008 Government Performance Project. As always, this report focuses on four fundamental areas of government management: Information, People, Money and Infrastructure. But this year, the elements that make up the information category — planning, goal-setting, measuring performance, disseminating data and evaluating progress — overlap with the other three fields to a greater degree than ever before. Information elements, in short, are key to how a state takes care of its infrastructure, plans for its financial future and deals with the dramatic changes affecting the state workforce.

Get individual state report cards via dropdown menu.

See also:
Pew Center on the States

Governments’ Financial Reporting Not Open Enough, Survey Shows

Source: American City & County, February 21, 2008

State and local governments are “under-delivering” open and honest information about spending practices to the public, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Alexandria, Va.-based Association of Government Accountants (AGA). However, the survey found that respondents were most disappointed with the federal government’s financial reporting practices.

Verbatim Survey Results

America At Risk

Source: Democratic Caucus, U.S. House of Representatives, February 2008

In Congressional testimony last week, military officials confirmed America is vulnerable. The U.S. Armed Forces are strained to the breaking point, our National Guard and Reserves are stressed and depleted, and President Bush’s latest budget cuts in half homeland security funds desperately needed by communities across the country. Nearly seven years after 9/11, and five years into a war in Iraq that continues to exhaust our troops with no end in sight, America may be at its most exposed. As Marine Maj. General Arnold L. Punaro said earlier this month, America now faces “an appalling gap in readiness for homeland defense.”

Homeland Security for Sale – DHS: Five Years of Mismanagement

Source: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

From press release:
Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a new report entitled Homeland Security for Sale – DHS: Five Years of Mismanagement (PDF; 6.9 MB), an accompanying website, www.homelandsecurityforsale.org and a video created and produced by Brave New Foundation. The report and video document the past five years of the agency’s most serious problems and troubling practices.

Every day, the American people read new stories about DHS and its gross overruns on projects, the worst employee morale in the federal government, the inoperability of information technology, our exposure to cyber-terrorism or FEMA’s fake press conference. CREW is releasing its report to hold those who run the agency accountable for its massive failures and to spark a public debate about how DHS can and must be improved in the next administration.

In its report, CREW details billions of dollars in waste and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, for example:
• $24 billion has been spent, and at least $178 million wasted, on the failed Coast Guard Deepwater program;
• over $600 million has been allocated for unworkable radiation border scanners;
• $1.3 billion has been lost on the US-VISIT program, which was never fully implemented and
• projected $2 billion loss on the SBInet “virtual fence” border program.

Hack, Mash & Peer: Crowdsourcing Government Transparency

Source: George Mason University, Mercatus Center, Regulatory Studies Program

In order to hold government accountable for its actions, citizens must know what those actions are, according to this paper. To that end, they must insist that government act openly and transparently to the greatest extent possible. In the Twenty- First Century, this entails making its data available online and easy to access. If government data is made available online in useful and flexible formats, citizens will be able to utilize modern Internet tools to shed light on government activities. Such tools include mashups, which highlight hidden connections between different data sets, and crowdsourcing, which makes light work of sifting through mountains of data by focusing thousands of eyes on a particular set of data.

Today, however, the state of government’s online offerings is very sad indeed. Some nominally publicly available information is not online at all, and the data that is online is often not in useful formats. Government should be encouraged to release public information online in a structured, open, and searchable manner. To the extent that government does not modernize, however, we should hope that private third parties build unofficial databases and make these available in a useful form to the public.

Engaging Citizens in Measuring and Reporting Community Conditions: A Manager’s Guide

Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Dr. Ho presents two case studies – one from Des Moines, Iowa; the other from Boston, Massachusetts – where government agencies and citizen groups reported their own or their government’s performance, respectively. While each of these cases reflects different strategic approaches, they both attempt to bring together what government does and what citizens see as being important in their community. In his report, Dr. Ho examines “how government officials can engage the public more directly in performance measurement and reporting efforts and how they can communicate more effectively about the efforts and accomplishments of public policies and programs.” The goal, he notes, is to “make performance measurement and reporting more relevant and meaningful to taxpayers.”

Full Report (PDF; 3 MB)

Wikipedia For Politics? A New Site Gives It A Try

Source: Declan McCullagh, CNET News.com, October 9, 2007

A political Web site set to launch on Tuesday plans to become a kind of Wikipedia-like destination specializing in elections, governments, and political candidates.

The idea behind PoliticalBase.com is to provide a neutral, one-stop source of information about politics (and politicians) to which anyone can contribute. Changes must be approved by a staff editor before they take effect.
Related sites:
From the Center for Media and Democracy:
PRWatch
Coming this Week in Congress
SourceWatch
The 2008 U.S. Congressional Elections Portal
U.S. presidential election, 2008
Congresspedia
TobaccoWiki
See also:
Beta of LOUIS (Library Of Unified Information Sources) Database
Citizendium