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GAB Forum: First Annual Government Analytics Survey

At this month's GAB forum, Jennifer Bachner (JHU) and Jeff Myers (REI Systems) presented the results from the first annual Government Analytics Survey.  The survey yielded several key findings:

  1. Analytics are important to government agencies.  82% of respondents say analytics were "dominant," "of significant importance," or "equal to other factors" in the three most significant decisions made by their agency.

  2. When government analytics focus on money, they have less impact on strategy.  Analytics focused on justifying budgets and reducing costs correlate with a smaller perceived impact of analytics on the most significant agency decisions (0.5 points of a 1-5 scale).

  3. People spend the most time gathering data (23%), vs. analyzing (8%), communicating (14%) or acting on it (10%).  Streamlining and automating data collection should be a priorty for government agencies.

  4. AI is getting a lot of talk, but not much action.  Respondents think machine learning (26%) and AI (25%) hold the most promise for improving government, but very few respondents (less than 4%) work with AI right now.

  5. Staffing is the biggest hurdle.  Attracting/retaining staff was named the biggest challenge; and more than 50% of respondents indicate that their agency plans to develop or recruit staff with a certification in the field of analytics. 
A panel of experts offered their reactions to the findings.  The panel included:
  • Michael Conlin (Chief Data Officer, DoD)
  • Dr. Collin Paschall (new faculty member, JHU Government Analytics program)
  • Pat Hu (Director, Bureau of Transportation Statistics)
  • William Beach (Commissioner, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Read more about the panel's thoughts in Federal News Network's coverage of the forum, "'How do we do better?' Chief data officers see hiring challenges persist."

A recording of this event (and the slide presentation) can be seen here
Please join us at our next event on November 13 which will feature TSA Deputy Administrator Patty Cogswell.  Check the Government Analytics website for more details and registration information in the coming weeks.

Congratulations to 2019 Bryce Harlow Fellows

The Center for Advanced Governmental Studies sends its congratulations to the 2019 Recipients of the Bryce Harlow Fellows Award.  The Bryce Harlow Foundation is dedicated to advancing the integrity of government advocacy and increasing understanding of its important role in the development of sound public policy.

The three recipients are MA in Government students Jonathan Ammons, Ian Gray, and Blake Major.

Jonthan Ammons is the Director of Policy and Strategic Messaging for the Utah House of Representatives.  Ian Gray is a legislative staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives. He previously worked for PepsiCo as a Senior Analyst for Government Affairs and as a Policy Advisor in the White House during the Obama Administration. Blake Major is the director of federal government affairs at AIG.  He is co-founder of the Government Affairs Industry Network (GAIN), a nonprofit that hosts networking, mentoring, and career development events for advocacy professionals in Washington, DC. 




New Book by Public Managment Alum

Public Management Graduate Veronica Goodman has recently released her latest book M is for Medicine. This book is a humorous, colorful introduction to the language of medicine for preschool-age children. The book features a new medical term for every letter of the alphabet, illustrated by full-color, playful images to entertain parents and children alike as you move from A to Z.


Alumni Spotlight: Joe Croce

MS in Government Analytics alumnus Joe Croce was recently featured on the Inspired Service Podcast, a "new new show that is humanizing public service one conversation at a time."  We are so proud of Joe for his service and his continuing commitment to America's national security.  

How does one man’s blue-collar upbringing in Philadelphia inform the drive to serve? What’s it like serving overseas when your college friends are being wined and dined by investment banks? What does the singer-songwriter Jimmy Croce have to do with U.S. national security? Joe Croce, of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, answers these questions and many more on this episode of Inspired Service.

 Listen to the podcast here.


GAB Forum: Reducing Bias in Algorithms

This month's GAB Forum featured Miriam McKinney (Research Data Analyst, JHU Center for Government Excellence) and Andrew Nicklin (Futurist At-Large, JHU Centers for Civic Impact) who gave a talk titled, "Artificial intelligence algorithms manifest our own biases: Reduce harm by mitigating risks." 

Ms. McKinney opened the discussion by asking participants about their experiences with data and algorithms.  The audience agreed that, because people are biased, data are biased, which inevitably means that algorithms are biased.  But, this doesn't mean that we should never use algorthims.  According to Ms. McKinney, "Your algorthims are biased.  What are you going to do about it?"

A useful starting point for identifying and addressing bias is to employ the Ethics and Algorthims Toolkit developed by researchers at JHU and other universities and civic tech groups.  The purpose of the toolkit is to evaluate an algorithm for potential biases.  By working through the toolkit, government officials can pinpoint areas of concern with respect to an algorthim's implementation.  For example, by using the toolkit, officials might come to realize that their data fail to capture a key segment of the population.

As more cities, states and federal agencies adopt the toolkit, researchers will be able to better evaluate and quantify its effect on reducing unintended bias. 

You can view a recording of the event here.