Where states can learn to turn data into decisions
The Data Labs program helps participating states design data projects that deliver operational efficiency and improved services.
An annual program that aims to help state governments leverage their data more effectively, efficiently and equitably is accepting participants with data sharing challenges around safety nets benefits, workforce transitions and student outcomes.
Back for a second year, the Data Labs is an initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Beeck Center for Social Impact. The virtual, no-cost training and technical assistance program supports states’ projects to improve government services with data sharing.
“Through this project, we really hope to help states advance their use of data and evidence to inform their decision-making and help them share what they've learned with other states as well,” Portia Polk, an NGA senior policy analyst, said at an information session Friday.
Over nine months, Data Labs will walk cohort participants through the planning and preparation process, according to Jen Puma, program manager at the Beeck Center for Social Impact. Participants will learn about data management and equity strategies that maintain project momentum and engage key stakeholders.
The program gives states an opportunity to define and research their data sharing challenges and potential solutions. In later stages of the program, participants test solutions through data integration, tech stack preparation and other methods. They also establish data governance standards that improve data workflows, risk mitigation and data documentation.
States may propose new or ongoing projects, and the Data Labs advisory council will help officials develop an action plan for their initiatives by the program’s conclusion. The council includes subject matter experts at organizations such as Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Benefits Data Trust as well as state chief data officers from Oregon, Illinois and Arkansas.
The inaugural cohort included the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which worked on challenges connecting with minority-owned businesses during the procurement process. Data silos and incompatible data formats prevented the department from identifying areas for improvement. Data Labs was able to help CMS implement a data governance strategy to clean and contextualize datasets, which helped officials design a dashboard for further analysis.
“We don’t intend for state teams to create additional work. We really want this program to add value to work that state teams are either already doing or are planning on doing,” Puma said.
Proposals for the 2023 cohort are due Feb. 15.