Will Data-Driven Policy Change How IGs Operate?

Genialbaron/Shutterstock.com

Inspectors general should be evaluating how successful federal programs are, not just how compliant they are, according to a recent report.  

The federal watchdogs that routinely assess their agencies’ internal operations could do more to make government more efficient, a report argues.

The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit advocacy group for the federal workforce, and auditing giant Grant Thornton interviewed several auditors, inspectors general and staffers about how having access to more data could transform their watchdog roles, especially if current transparency efforts are successful.

Instead of just ensuring agencies are compliant with existing regulations, inspectors general should think of new ways evaluate whether those programs are successful, respondents said.

“It is the difference between counting the number of people who show up at a job training program, versus examining the number of attendees who get and keep a job after participating in that program,” the report noted.

The report comes shortly after the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, a White House advisory group stemming from legislation co-written by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., shared recommendations for ways agencies should use more data internally. Their proposals included creating a National Secure Data Service, a federal body to advocate for data use while protecting citizens’ privacy. Ryan and Murray subsequently introduced the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, which would implement some of these recommendations, including requiring agencies to appoint chief data officers and chief evaluation officers.

The Partnership and Grant Thornton made recommendations applying to all parts of federal agencies, but watchdogs, in particular, can combine “data analysis, institutional knowledge and clear reporting to compel agencies to make recommended changes and improvements. These skills could help individual agencies improve how they execute their missions,” the report said.

Here are a few other takeaways from the report:

Agencies still lack complete data about their internal operations.

The report concluded that most program managers don’t have adequate information to assess the success of programs. The Veterans Health Administration, for instance, didn’t know how many contract physicians it was paying this year, according to the Government Accountability Office. And even when information exists, it’s not always accessible. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wasn’t giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement data about potential human traffickers, the Homeland Security Department’s IG office concluded.

A lack of data forces IGs to focus on the compliance issues instead of broadly evaluating the success of agencies.

Simply measuring whether agencies are compliant with certain laws, instead of examining the outcome of their programs, “may drive agencies to do things that are easy to measure, at the expense of things that are very impactful but whose outcomes are difficult to measure,” one participant in developing the report said.

There’s a personnel problem in IG offices.

Out of 73 offices, 13 have acting IGs, the report found. Those agencies might have a harder time getting their staff to shift their focus away from compliance. That’s partly because “acting IGs are more likely to favor short-term projects that do not rock the boat, essentially serving as a caretaker until a permanent IG takes over,” Danielle Brian, executive director of independent watchdog group the Project on Government Oversight, testified in a 2015 Senate hearing, the report noted.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.