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Performance Reporting 2.0 Using Socrata’s GovStat
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Posted On April 4, 2013


GovStat is a new performance measurement platform for government where every goal set by a team, agency, or department (short-term, intermediate, and long-term) has metrics against which it is measured. Data feeds automatically into dashboards that allow government workers (and the public) to see the impact of work being done in classrooms, at hospitals, and on city streets.

GovStat helps governments share their data, allowing the public to measure how effective cities, states, or agencies are in meeting the goals that they established for themselves. Once a goal is created, a team can measure and improve government performance in terms of operational data, including budget (e.g., burn rate/actuals), procurement (process and spend measures), and personnel (leave, vacancies, and hiring process measures); output (in terms of quantity, volume, or value) and outcomes (i.e., impact on desired results). GovStat is an example of a new class of tools designed to help government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fulfill the promises of President Barack Obama’s Open Government Initiative “to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” GovStat was officially released March 26, 2013.

Developed by Seattle-based Socrata, a cloud-based software company focused on democratizing access to government data, GovStat is designed to:

  • Empower government leaders to review the facts before making an important decision and communicate these decisions more effectively to staff and the public
  • Promote collaborative problem-solving across government departments
  • Engage citizens in performance-improving programs

GovStat’s instant dashboards mean that, once a goal is created, your team can measure progress toward it right away, in real-time, keeping all the relevant metrics and up-to-date indicators in view. This encourages collaboration and quick answers to questions, preventing discussion and decision making based on outdated information. GovStat is unique in that the language around goals is standardized. All data is kept in a centralized location (in the cloud) so that every employee from every department can review and communicate about strategies, participating in problem-solving. Plus, when citizens see all of the goals and progress against them, they are invited to give feedback. Maryland's StateStat, with its dashboard of 15 strategic policy goals, is a good illustration of GovStat in action. Mouseover any of the goals to see how Maryland is doing with regard to the following:

  • Opportunity (jobs, education, skills)
  • Security (violent crime, domestic violence, homeland security)
  • Sustainability (energy, transit)
  • Health (infant mortality, substance abuse)

The New Data Economy

Today’s citizens want a way of discovering answers to specific questions for themselves. Twenty-first century style demands information immediately and personalized, with no intermediary (or special tech skills) required for access and understanding. Socrata’s toolkit for open innovation consumerizes the data experience, putting information directly into the hands of those who need it for review and use. Socrata allows multiple data sources to come together to explore questions on the minds of citizens. Information consumers become co-creators, transforming intelligence, made available to others immediately for reuse and sharing with others.

Business Intelligence and Decision Support

GovStat is not the only tool to aid organizations in making strategic planning or capital investment decisions, aligning project priorities to help organizations achieve overall goals more quickly and efficiently. Several focus on the corporate sector while others excel in Big Data visualization. Though none of the following have direct competitors to GovStat in terms of features and targets, it might be worth looking at the products offered from the following:

The Smartdatacollective blog from Social Media Today, along with its @SmartDataCo Twitter feed, does a good job tracking and publicizing what’s happening in the analytics, business intelligence, and Big Data space.

About Socrata

Socrata helps public sector organizations improve transparency, citizen service, and fact-based decision making by efficiently delivering data to those who need it, in a user-friendly experience on web, mobile, and machine. Socrata’s toolkit for open innovation consumerizes the data experience, transforming information, putting it directly into the hands of those who need it. This “social data discovery solution promotes civic engagement, improves decision and policy making, and achieves government transparency.” The company’s tag line could be, “Government data: use it, share it, build on it.”

Here are four ways to learn more:

  1. Read the GovStat How-To Guide at http://discover.socrata.com/GovStat-Program-How-to-Guide.html
  2. Participate in a Live Demo of GovStat on April 4 at http://discover.socrata.com/Govstat-demo-in-30-minutes.html
  3. Register for a Google+ hangout on April 11 at http://discover.socrata.com/government-connected-performance.html
  4. See the open data sets available at https://opendata.socrata.com


Barbie E. Keiser is an information resources management consultant located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

Email Barbie E. Keiser

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