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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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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Governing RePost: When performance measures go horribly wrong

The old saying, “what gets measured gets managed,” is true. Performance measures have a very powerful influence on people’s behaviors. And that raises the key question: How do we know if the measures we use are appropriate?

Referring to another old saw from Albert Einstein, “not everything that counts is countable, and not everything that’s countable counts,” Russ Linden explores how organizations can revisit and improve their performance measures in meaningful ways. Read more here!


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Governing Reblog: County Migration Trends

County in-migration and out-migration trends are tracked by the IRS, with tax returns serving as a proxy for the number of households. While any such singular tracking method may miss families and individuals that do not file taxes, it does provide some small insight into changes in county populations, and even economic health. While numerous other factors beyond in or out-migration are needed to fully understand a county’s economic wellbeing, whether or not there is enough of a working age population available from year to year to sustain local industry is a fairly reliable indicator.

We can see a stark difference in migration patterns between two of Oregon’s counties below:

Washington-County Migration Data


Harney-County Migration Data - Internet Explorer

While Washington County saw the rate of in-migration growth increase from 2011 to 2014, Harney County saw a fairly sizable net loss in the number of filed tax returns in that same period. The data available may not tell us why such a pattern is evident. It may point to other indicators (such as changes in local industry) that can, however.

Interested in comparing your home county to its neighbors? Checking out the original post over at!

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