Governing RePost: Drowning in Data, Cities Turn to ‘Citizen Scientists’

Government has a data problem. Put simply, it collects so much of it that it struggles to analyze most of it.

Of course, states and localities already use data analytics for a lot of things. Departments of revenue, for instance, rely on it to curb tax fraud. Public schools use it to measure student performance and figure out how to boost grades and graduation rates. Cities turn to it to manage traffic congestion and monitor air pollution. But despite all of this, governments are still collecting vast amounts of data and, well, doing nothing with it…

Ted Newcombe discusses a growing trend in local government data analysis, and some of the advantages – and drawbacks – of calling upon nonexperts to help analyze government data. Read more here.

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Internal Auditor ReBlog- Ratings in Audit Reports: Lights or Lightning Rods?

…an audit committee chairman observed that ratings can “shine a light” and help the audit committee quickly focus on the most important findings in a report. However, while ratings may be a “light” for some, they are ultimately a “lightning rod” for others.

Ratings can be a powerful tool, but if management and the audit committee place undue emphasis on them, they tend to have a polarizing effect on line and operating managers whose performance ends up being summarized in a single word: “unsatisfactory.”

Even the most useful tools have their limitations. In this post, IIA CEO Richard Chambers ponders the benefits and drawbacks of the use of ratings systems in internal audits. Read more here.

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DHS – Aging and People with Disabilities: Consumer-Employed Provider Program Needs Immediate Action to Ensure In-Home Care Consumers Receive Required Care and Services

Report Highlights


The Secretary of State’s Audits Division found that the Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) program should take immediate action to address gaps in program design and oversight in order to improve the safety and well-being of participants in the Consumer-Employed Provider (CEP) program.

Read full report here.

Background

Oregon is a leader in providing in-home long- term care options for older adults and people with disabilities. The most used in-home care program is the Consumer-Employed Provider program, which positions consumers as employers of their homecare worker.

Purpose

The purpose of this audit was to assess the policies and processes used by APD to ensure the needs of consumers in the CEP program are met.

Key Findings

The effectiveness of the Consumer-Employed Provider program is dependent on the consumer, the case manager, and the homecare worker. If each is capable, competent, and supported in their role, the current model can be successful. Our audit found:

1. Some consumers are not receiving the support necessary to ensure required employer duties are being performed, which adds to case managers’ and homecare workers’ responsibilities.
2. Case managers are not consistently contacting consumers, or monitoring services consumers receive due to excessive workloads.
3. Agency requirements do not ensure that homecare workers are prepared to provide the care and assistance consumers need.
4. Due to current data collection and utilization practices, it is difficult for APD to determine if consumers are safe and receiving the care and services they need.
5. Current deficiencies in the program may put consumers’ health and well-being at risk and keep the program from operating as intended.

To reach our findings, we conducted interviews and case file reviews, collected and analyzed CEP consumer data, and researched federal and state standards.

Recommendations

The report includes recommendations to improve Consumer-Employed Provider program implementation and support. Recommendations include consistently following existing monitoring policies, addressing case managers’ excessive workload and responsibilities, and providing more support to consumers and homecare workers.
The Department generally agreed with our findings and recommendations. Its response can be found at the end of the report.

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Better Humans ReBlog: Cognitive bias cheat sheet

I’ve spent many years referencing Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases whenever I have a hunch that a certain type of thinking is an official bias but I can’t recall the name or details. It’s been an invaluable reference for helping me identify the hidden flaws in my own thinking. Nothing else I’ve come across seems to be both as comprehensive and as succinct…

I’ve taken some time over the last four weeks (I’m on paternity leave) to try to more deeply absorb and understand this list, and to try to come up with a simpler, clearer organizing structure to hang these biases off of. Reading deeply about various biases has given my brain something to chew on while I bounce little Louie to sleep.

Buster Benson, a platform product lead at SlackHQ, provides an interesting breakdown of cognitive biases in our thinking and why we use them. In short, cognitive biases are shortcuts that help us address problems and discern meaning from information and events. Many people are familiar with confirmation bias (favoring information that confirms your pre-existing belief and rejecting information that does not), but there are a long list of cognitive biases that influence how we perceive the world.

Cognitive biases gets a bad rap, but they are not inherently bad. Cognitive biases help us make sense of the world around us. Problem is, the world does not always comply with our sense-making efforts, and sometimes we are just dead wrong. Even auditors need to be aware of the biases they might employ to help make sense of the world.

Read more here, and check out the handy cognitive bias map below.

 

Are there any biases that you are particularly fond of (or, dare we say it, guilty of overusing)? Not sure? Check out the whole list here.

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Governing RePost: Fewer people are getting degrees in public service

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that several of the top government-related academic fields — including criminal justice, political science and public administration — have seen the number of degrees awarded level off or dip slightly over the past few years. This signals a departure from the previous several decades, including the immediate post-recession period, when schools handed out more diplomas in most fields as workers sought to enhance their résumé  during the economic slump.

While awarded degrees have slowed down somewhat in general in the last few years, public service degrees have shown slightly more of a slowdown. What affect this may have on public service employment is hard to say, but you can keep on top of trends and read more here.

 

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Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Reblog: Poverty and progress, Oregon update edition

In order to not bury the lede regarding the 2016 ACS data, Oregon’s household income and poverty numbers look very good. I don’t want to oversell the data, but they are among the best readings in Oregon’s modern history. The underlying, or internal dynamics behind the topline data are even better. This does not mean the economy is perfect, or without issues. We know there remain substantial problems and challenges. It does mean, however, that considerable progress has been made during the current economic expansion following the financial crisis.

Josh Lehner shares his analysis of the 2016 American Community Survey data recently released by the U.S. Census. The data from last year are predominantly good, and indicative of positive economic trends in the state since the depth of the recession. Read more here.

If you’d like to take a peek at the survey data for yourself, you’ll find downloadable data files here and here.

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Secretary of State’s 2017-2018 Audit Plan

Overview of the Audit Plan

The Audits Division of the Secretary of State’s Office adheres to an overall audit strategy that a high-quality and transparent annual audit plan is critical for meeting our mission.

The Division follows professional standards and guidelines for the development of the Annual Audit Plan.

These guidelines recognize that an annual audit plan and work schedule benefit the organization by establishing which agencies, programs, contracts, or other areas will be prioritized for audits on an annual basis.

Including performance, IT, and financial topics, the Oregon Audits Division will tackle 30 audits in the upcoming year, with several more possibilities lined up on the 2018-2019 horizon.

Read the Plan here.

 

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