SAS guidebook empowers government agencies to use analytics for good

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Too much to do and not enough time to do it. That's a common refrain in government, but an important one because of the critical role government plays in the lives of so many.

A new how-to book explains how analytics can help government leaders at all levels improve quality of life for citizens.

In a new book from SAS, A Practical Guide to Analytics for Governments: Using Big Data for Good, analytics experts explore how technology helps state and local governments better serve citizens. (I encourage you to check out a book review by Government Computer News which claims the practical guide "lives up to its name.")

In one particularly important chapter, author Will Jones, now the President & CEO of Thompson Child & Family Focus, looks at the problems facing overburdened case workers at child protective services offices. These case workers simply have too much work and not enough time to do it, leading to a dangerous situation where an endangered child could not receive the protection he or she needs.

Through the use of analytics, Jones explores how these departments can better prioritize cases, spending the most time and resources on those who need it most. It's a simple explanation of what analytics can do, but more importantly, it shows the human impact this technology can have when combined with the missions of government.

When case workers know which cases are at the highest risk, they can prioritize their time. That's not to say that all cases are not important, but case workers can be armed with the information they need to make potentially life saving decisions. It's just one example of how analytics can serve as a powerful tool in how people do their jobs and how agencies allocate employee time.

This book takes stories from state and local government, but they translate to all areas of business, and none more so than the federal government. Federal agencies are constantly asked to do more with less, and that will be especially true as the Trump administration has proposed large cuts to federal civilian agencies. The use of analytics can lessen the impacts of these cuts by helping agencies run more efficiently than ever before.

The new book from SAS shows the power of government’s mission. From large federal departments to small local offices, the people working in these jobs have a profound effect on their communities.

“Our country faces many challenges,” wrote Paula Henderson, Vice President of State and Local Government at SAS, in the book’s foreword. “Literally, lives are at stake. Analytics can help, but its impact is intensified when used by people with a desire to make a difference … I hope this book inspires you to consider ways to improve the lives of citizens through data and analytics. But, with or without software, we can all be a force for good.”

Over the coming weeks I'll share additional book content, highlighting the state and local stories that all government leaders need to know. The book can be purchased on the SAS website here.

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About Author

Marie Lowman

Principal Industry Consultant for Government, SAS

Marie Lowman has been making government more efficient with analytics for the better part of two decades, settling on, and never getting over, the fact that if we can do better, then we must do better. Throughout her career Marie has not only spoken, written, and thought extensively about governments doing better for their constituents, but she is also practicing it. As a three-term elected councilmember, and an appointed planning and zoning commissioner for more than five years, Marie practices what she preaches. She’s seen firsthand how important government decisions are made and holds firm the belief that decisions impacting the community shouldn’t be made on gut-feel alone. Useful, valuable data surrounds us and should be leveraged in our elected officials’ decision making process.

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