We all want safe neighborhoods, good schools, and clean environments. Citizens are constantly evaluating how well their governments deliver these public services. In order to understand and meet demands, government organizations collect a vast array of information on what they do and how it works. But merely reporting these results to elected officials and the public is not the sole intention. Effective governments can use these data to make better decisions and develop strategies that will improve performance. All it takes is the right mindset, purpose, and strategy.
The Value of Performance-Based Analytics
Public agencies are no strangers to the value of data. But the digital age has upped the ante. Analytics are redefining performance norms, and government is taking notice. Social services agencies can now glean new insights from data and use them to fundamentally transform the relationship between workers and their tasks, between workers and their clients, and between clients and the services they receive.
Law enforcement agencies, for example, have already effectively implemented performance-based analytics models in their own operations. They use comparative statistics to identify spikes in crimes, allowing ranking officers to address those spikes through targeted enforcement. These statistics measure the effectiveness of efforts to reduce crime and pinpoint areas that need improvement when crime increases. In using this analytics approach, for example, the New York City Police Department, through its COMPSTAT initiative, successfully drove down crime to levels not seen in decades.
There is no doubt these results are impressive. But can its success extend to social services?
Case in Point: Los Angeles County
With a workforce of more than 14,000 employees, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) serves an ethnically and culturally diverse population of more than ten million people, or three out of every ten Los Angeles County residents. It is one of the first organizations to use a performance-based analytics model in a social services environment. Known as DPSSTATS, the system uses modern analytics technology and processes to help the county manage the increasing complexity of public assistance and employment programs more efficiently.
The DPSS is responsible for administering public aid programs that help alleviate hardship, promote health and personal responsibility, and advance the economic independence of county...