Efforts to improve public policy and programs through data practice: Experiences in 15 distressed American cities

Beth C. Weitzman, Diana Silver, Caitlyn Brazill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Philanthropies and government agencies interested in children's issues are encouraging localities to improve the process of collecting, linking, and sharing microdata and aggregated summary statistics. An implicit assumption of these efforts is that outcomes will improve as a result of the new approaches. However, there has been little systematic study of these efforts. In this article, we examine efforts to improve data practice in 15 distressed American cities. Interviews conducted in these cities revealed variation in the types of information collected, dissemination, and intended audiences. We identify significant challenges to these efforts, including adequate resources, turf battles, technical problems, access to information sources, inconsistent leadership, and absence of political will. We find that little is known about the impact of these initiatives on decision making. Assumptions that improved data practice will lead to improved policy making have not yet been realized in these cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-399
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Administration Review
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing

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