UNC Set to Host Seminars on Using Analytics for Better Policymaking

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Public Policy scheduled Analytics for Better Policymaking Seminars starting in March, hoping to emulate recent federal successes implementing new applications at the state and local levels.

As senior policymakers prioritize government challenges they aim to tackle in 2016, seminar planners want them thinking about how analytics can help accomplish their goals.

A March 16-17 analytics seminar at UNC’s flagship campus will look at child welfare and juvenile justice; a seminar focused on health care and Medicaid managed care is slated for April 26-27. Each seminar has 25 attendee slots available.

“They’ll go home with a toolkit and an understanding of what analytics are,” said Zach Ambrose, the founder of Raleigh-based Ambrose Strategies, a public sector and communications strategy firm. “They’ll see, ‘Here are the kinds of data sources I need to get access to,’ and, ‘This is what I can do within my limitations.’ We’re not just going to make them cocktail party literate.”

The hands-on policy exercise leverages UNC faculty, as well as an array of business, nonprofit and civic leaders teaching lessons learned about child support and proposed rules from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Speakers for the first seminar include UNC social work professor Mark Testa, known nationally for his work on data-driven policymaking; Steven Eldred, the director of child support services in Orange County, California; Oregon Youth Authority Director Fariborz Pakseresht; and Susan Dreyfus, the president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

Tim Hill, the deputy director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, is scheduled to speak at the second seminar

Senior officials from state and large county governments are expected to attend.

“As state and local policymakers face pressing policy challenges, these seminars have the capacity to get policy researchers to ask more relevant questions and for applied policymakers to appreciate the value of policy research and analytics to inform their real world decisions,” Dan Gitterman, UNC’s Public Policy chairman, said in an email. “We all share the goal of making good public policy."

Policymakers won’t be instructed on the math of analytics, but instead the first seminar will show them, for instance, how Oregon used targeted analytics for juvenile interventions so best practices can be replicated in other jurisdictions.

The two-tiered seminar will first show how to prioritize caseloads and next how to optimize resources with analytics.

“As a measure of success, we’ll touch base next year and see who’s engaged in an analytics solution with their agency,” Ambrose said.

Registration is open, and interested parties who don’t make the cut-off will be able to attend future seminars in some of the same policy areas and new ones. Find more details on the seminars here.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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