Press |

State Scoop: Government is ‘missing the boat’ on understanding outcome data

May 12, 2021

Tara Dawson McGuinness, of the New America think tank, which is focused on improving families’ economic security, said that when using data it’s important to keep an eye on the purpose of the project, or “Data for what?” McGuinness, who recently co-authored a book about the abundance of IT and data available to government, said one salient example outlined in her book was how a nonprofit called Community Solutions tracks homeless populations in Rockford, Illinois, and dozens of other communities. In Rockford, she said, the group aided the government in piecing together a list of its approximately 100 homeless residents, a task she said required a lot of interagency collaboration. 

“Instead of having different systems telling them the rate of homelessness or who is in the hospital or who is showing up in the shelter, they really work to create data that sees the whole people,” McGuinness said. “They have good controls over how you do that in a way that respects privacy, but they also really understand that one person’s challenge with being housed is not the same as the 100th person.”