Posts Tagged ‘data’

I guess I’m in a generous mood of late, as I have more kudos to hand out. Tulsa’s Child Abuse Network sends out a weekly email to board members, staff, and other stakeholders called “Tuesday Tidbits” that summarizes some headline numbers of their week: the children they saw, age breakdowns, types of abuse, types of services, and counties served.

I look at it every week but, to be honest, don’t pay it much attention. Just look at the numbers and close it. But it occurred to me that that’s what it makes it work – in less than 10 seconds I know what kind of week the staff of CAN and their partners had. And so does everyone else. On weeks with unusually high numbers, everyone knows how hard the staff has worked. And, I suspect, everyone devotes at least a small amount of thought as to why the number spiked.

One of the keys to becoming an effective outcome-oriented organization is to get your staff to buy into the numbers. It’s hard to get people to care about the data they enter (and thus, to care about its accuracy) when they never see how that data is used. At CAN, they see every week acknowledgement of their efforts and the usefulness of their data.

Do you have something like CAN’s Tuesday Tidbits? What data do you include? If not, what data would you include if you had a Tuesday Tidbits?

(Full disclosure: I’m a member of CAN’s Planning Committee.)


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Privatized Data?

Last week I went to a Census training session sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce that was designed to teach people like me how to use the incredibly clunky US Census website as well as websites like that of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. I got to thinking about how poorly government websites present data in comparison to private efforts such as DataPlace and KidsCount.

Well the deliciously nerdy Social Science Statistics Blog apparently thinks like I do and have a post up linking to a just as deliciously nerdy article called “Government Data and the Invisible Hand” in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology. The abstract:

If the next Presidential administration really wants to embrace the potential of Internet-enabled government transparency, it should follow a counter-intuitive but ultimately compelling strategy: reduce the federal role in presenting important government information to citizens. Today, government bodies consider their own websites to be a higher priority than technical infrastructures that open up their data for others to use. We argue that this understanding is a mistake. It would be preferable for government to understand providing reusable data, rather than providing websites, as the core of its online publishing responsibility.

Rather than struggling, as it currently does, to design sites that meet each end-user need, we argue that the executive branch should focus on creating a simple, reliable and publicly accessible infrastructure that exposes the underlying data. Private actors, either nonprofit or commercial, are better suited to deliver government information to citizens and can constantly create and reshape the tools individuals use to find and leverage public data. The best way to ensure that the government allows private parties to compete on equal terms in the provision of government data is to require that federal websites themselves use the same open systems for accessing the underlying data as they make available to the public at large. (Emphasis mine.)


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Highlights and report. Analysis at Moving Up, Center for American Progress, and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Working on updating some of our Tulsa numbers on children under 6 in poverty. Post that soon. Basically, we didn’t see a huge movement in the Tulsa County/City numbers, measured as the share of children under 6. Even so, there were about 10% more kids under 6 last year living below poverty and below 185% of poverty.

(Still working on this. I was hoping to post some nifty Google spreadsheets but alas, WordPress won’t allow it.)

It’s important to note, as have others, that these figures come at the tail end of a long period of economic expansion nationally. As CBPP says:

This is unprecedented. Never before on record has poverty been higher and median income for working-age households lower at the end of a multi-year economic expansion than at the beginning. The new data add to the mounting evidence that the gains from the 2001-2007 expansion were concentrated among high-income Americans.

We are sure to see even greater deterioration this year as Tulsa, whose economy always lags national trends, catches up to the recessionary environment of 2008.

At the statewide level, of course, our friends at Oklahoma Policy Institute have done good stuff (PDF) with these numbers, and they look a whole lot better than my tables.

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