2018 State Standard of Excellence

5. Data Use

Did the state or any of its agencies have data systems consistent with strong privacy protections that linked multiple administrative datasets across state agencies, and did it use those systems to improve federal, state, or local programs?

Why is this important?
The linking of data across programs and agencies allows state governments to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state services while measuring the impact of those services on residents.

Leading Example

Kentucky Outline


Multiple agencies

A 2013 Kentucky law established the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics which collects and links high-quality, actionable data from five state agencies in order to improve education and workforce programs in the state. By providing data sets, publishing reports, and fulfilling research requests, the center provides state-specific insights with appropriate data privacy and data access measures. It has more than 40 staff members who are dedicated to “developing reports, responding to research requests, and providing statistical data about these efforts so policymakers, agencies, and the general public can make better informed decisions” (p. 7). The center is run by an executive director with oversight from a board composed of participating state agencies. The center has also developed a research agenda for 2017–2019.

Promising Examples


Single agency

The California Department of Health and Human Services has created an Open Data Handbook to allow stakeholders to use “government data to better understand what is happening in government on all levels—federal, state, and local.” The CHHS Open Data Portal, the first state government open data platform, houses data from 14 agencies. The department’s data policy playbook also provides an overview of the agency’s approach to data governance and promotes an innovative, results-driven, cross-sectoral organizational culture.


Multiple agencies

The 2016 Illinois Enterprise Memorandum of Understanding (eMoU) established a framework for data-sharing policy between 13 state health and human services agencies. The eMoU is designed to help these agencies optimize customer service, ensure efficient program management, and improve policymaking by providing reliable data for decision-makers.


Multiple agencies

The Indiana Management Performance Hub houses the integrated Education and Workforce Development database, which brings together data from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the Indiana Department of Education, the Department of Workforce Development, and the Family and Social Services Administration. A 2017 Indiana law requires the state’s chief data officer to oversee the Hub and advising state agencies regarding best practices for data maintenance, security, and privacy. The Hub uses this database to provide “analytics solutions tailored to address complex management and policy questions enabling improved outcomes.”


Multiple agencies

A 2010 Maryland law established the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center as an independent agency to bring together education and workforce data from the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the Maryland State Department of Education, and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. In partnership with the University of Maryland and under the guidance of a board, the center’s 15 staff members produce a variety of reports about student performance in order to improve the education system and guide decision-makers at all levels.


Multiple agencies

The 2015 Massachusetts Chapter 55 law directs state agencies to investigate seven specific questions related to the causes and effects of opioid addiction in the state. To answer these questions, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in cooperation with 29 cross-sector partners, combined 10 datasets from five agencies. The resulting report and online resources provide an overview of the state’s opioid crisis, including usage and overdose patterns, and policy recommendations to improve the state’s response.


Multiple agencies

Minnesota’s Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System and Early Childhood Education Data System match administrative education and employment data from five state agencies from cradle to career. This system, which has strong privacy protections, provides the state with a better understanding of program delivery and outcomes.


Multiple agencies

The South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office maintains an integrated data system which stores data and is able to link individuals being served by more than 20 state agencies and other organizations. This system has facilitated program improvement efforts and numerous research studies, including a random control trial as a part of the state’s Pay for Success initiative to improve outcomes for low-income mothers and their babies.


Multiple agencies

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services maintains an Integrated Client Database which brings together 30 data sets from 10 state agencies to “support cost-benefit and cost offset analyses, program evaluations, operational program decisions, geographical analyses and in-depth research” (p. 1). The department’s longitudinal client database includes detailed information for 2.4 million individuals, including their medical diagnoses, medical costs, mental illness indicators, disability status, criminal justice history, and employment status. Recently, the system has deployed a data analytic tool, Predictive Risk Intelligence System, which allows case managers to access information about individual clients and their service histories to make more informed decisions about targeting resources and coordinating care. Through this improved service delivery approach, Washington reaped $10 million in state savings by identifying high-need clients and better coordinating their care to reduce duplicative and fragmented interventions.


Multiple agencies

In 2017, Wisconsin launched the Early Childhood Integrated Data System, which integrates data from the state Departments of Children and Families, Health Services, and Public Instruction. The system links, collects, and monitors early childhood data from 37 state programs. The state engaged in an inclusive planning process to design the system which, although it is not an integrated data warehouse, provides for data sharing among relevant state agencies, and has strong privacy protections.