Insight by Tyler Technologies

The ultimate outcome of the Evidence Act? Data literally for the people

Solving complex problems collaboratively — that’s the yet to be fully tapped potential of the Evidence Act.

“Whether it’s between agencies, across departments or between the federal government and the state and local governments, that’s really the opportunity that I see,” Michael Donofrio, senior advisor for federal solutions at Tyler Technologies, told Federal News Network.

It’s already beginning to happen and will “continue to grow exponentially into the future,” he said, including eventually making much more...

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Solving complex problems collaboratively — that’s the yet to be fully tapped potential of the Evidence Act.

“Whether it’s between agencies, across departments or between the federal government and the state and local governments, that’s really the opportunity that I see,” Michael Donofrio, senior advisor for federal solutions at Tyler Technologies, told Federal News Network.

It’s already beginning to happen and will “continue to grow exponentially into the future,” he said, including eventually making much more data available to the public.

Donofrio added that it’s also the work he finds most rewarding. “It’s an exciting time to work with and for the government.”

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The Evidence Act Journey

There’s an opportunity to increase the amount of consumable information products that the federal government can create, that benefit the needs of cities and counties and localities.

The Evidence Act (formally known as the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act) has helped take efforts that in the past were called “good government” and created statutory deliverables that have pushed the government forward on collaboration centered around data, Donofrio said.

“There’s an opportunity to increase the amount of consumable information products that the federal government can create, that benefit the needs of cities and counties and localities so that they can leverage advanced data analytics without having to recreate it on their own dime,” he said.

Agencies across government are on an ever-evolving continuum as they work to better gather data, make it findable and accessible, analyze it and use it to improve federal programs in agile ways. That’s exciting in and of itself, but it’s the growing collaboration that these efforts have spawned that Donofrio sees as game-changing.

Sharing data to improve performance across government and industry

A pivotal goal of the Evidence Act is for agencies to create consumable information products — pieces of evidence — that federal policymakers can use to make informed decisions about programs and budgets. Essentially, it’s about using data and analytics “to identify those things that work and clearly fund those, as opposed to those that didn’t work as well,” Donofrio said.

That’s just the jumping-off point, he said, citing work that Tyler Technologies has done with the Department of Transportation developing an enterprise data platform in the cloud.

“What we’ve seen is an increase in the use of the data to create consumable information products, thus improving the way in which information is disseminated out to their stakeholders, which are states and cities and counties,” Donofrio said.

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Security and Metrics with the Evidence Act

Once you have your data in a format that can be used across the organization, you can then drive downstream use of that, whether it be through customer relationships, whether it be through surveys, whether it be through interacting with your constituents.

Those consumable products, in turn, have allowed all levels of government to amplify the data through additional collaboration and analytics, specifically to address the needs of underserved populations and improve how transportation organizations program, plan and pay for services, he said.

On a smaller scale, he shared how the Agricultural Marketing Service at the Department of Agriculture, which provides shipping companies with information as part of its mission, began to improve the speed with which it releases details about ship traffic in the Intracoastal Waterway.

“They’ve used our platform … to reduce the time which it takes to publish this information. Previously, it was on a monthly basis and a PDF, which required the shipping companies to figure out how to get it out of a PDF,” Donofrio said. Now, the Agricultural Marketing Service updates “that information on a weekly basis with all sorts of evidence and visualizations to show context of the information and provide the shipping companies a better understanding of how the federal government uses that data, as well as get that data in their hands quicker.”

Setting widespread data accessibility and collaboration as the North Star

Although the DOT and USDA examples show the potential of collaboration, Donofrio acknowledged that the technology complexities of improving cross-agency access to data as well the storage, security and analytics challenges are not trivial. That’s why agencies must leverage the investments they’ve made in their current infrastructures and take advantage of application programming interfaces to physically connect data sources, he said. But most important, he added, agencies must keep the goal of enabling data discovery, data access and collaboration as their primary objectives.

As agencies across every level of government improve at data sharing and collaboration, the next logical focus is to create information that’s consumable by public users, like in the Agriculture example.

“Eventually, we can govern it and disseminate it out as an open data asset for the public to consume,” Donofrio said. That’s the digital transformation on the horizon, he said, when agencies go beyond producing dashboards and evidence, and instead establish enterprise catalogs and accessible data repositories.

“Once you have your data in a format that can be used across the organization, you can then drive downstream use of that, whether it be through customer relationships, whether it be through surveys, whether it be through interacting with your constituents.”

To discover more digital transformation insights and tactics, visit The Evidence Act: Actionable Insights with Data series.