Supporting States on the Road to Recovery

July 26, 2021 — By Tyler Kleykamp and Ali Benson

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to gain a foothold in our communities, state Chief Data Officers (CDOs) across the United States played a critical role in responding to the public health crisis. The State CDO Network, at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, served as a hub for CDOs to connect and learn from each other, sharing best practices that allowed them to collectively improve how their states were using data to support pandemic response. 

Recognizing that states were focused on dealing with the immediate crisis, the Beeck Center released Leveraging Data for Economic Recovery: A Roadmap for States in the summer of 2020. This report provided states with use cases where data could support an equitable recovery from the economic consequences of the pandemic. 

Just as the immediate and ongoing response to the pandemic requires cross-agency collaboration and data sharing, so too does an effective recovery. As more residents get vaccinated and states begin reopening, it appears that we’re finally on the road to recovery. The Beeck Center is pleased to be able to support states in those efforts. 

In partnership with the National Governors Association, today we’re launching Data Labs: Roadmap to Recovery; an innovative new training and technical assistance program that will support states in developing data-centric solutions to critical issues. For example, a state might gain better insight into specific businesses or neighborhoods that were hardest hit by closures or improve their ability to connect individuals assisted by public benefits programs with higher-paying jobs.

Through August 13, 2021, states can apply for no-cost support from designated Beeck Center program managers to kickstart a data project related to one of four issue areas: workforce support, higher education, small business, or housing and houselessness. 

Data Labs: Roadmap to Recovery will bring together teams of data and policy experts in state government, and layout a roadmap to guide state teams as they scope and begin to implement a data-informed project.

This unique program will be tailored to each state’s specific needs, allow for state peer-to-peer learning, amplify best practices and tactical examples of how other states have addressed similar challenges, and tap into the Beeck Center’s network of fellows and partners.

States that complete this program will be prepared to address a specific issue through data-informed decision and policy making, as well as establish a strong foundation for scaling these efforts to other issues in the future. They will also make important headway on addressing some of the highest-priority challenges that state leadership have identified as their priorities in the areas of workforce support, higher education, small business, or housing and houselessness.

Our work with state CDOs has consistently shown that when states focus on addressing a well-defined challenge, such as the opioid crisis or infant mortality, they are more likely to have success in addressing other issues. 

Coordinating efforts between data and policy experts within state government allows data to be collected, used, and managed with a specific goal in mind. It also allows the relevant policy levers to be informed in tandem, resulting in more effective, efficient, and equitable outcomes.

When used responsibly, data can transform the way states make decisions and deliver services, ultimately improving people’s lives – and we believe Data Labs: Roadmap to Recovery is a key step toward better data-driven decision making for all. 

To learn more about this program and apply, visit: Data Labs: Roadmap to Recovery

Tyler Kleykamp is a Beeck Center Fellow and Director of the State Chief Data Officers Network. Follow him at @tkleykamp

Ali Benson is the Data for Impact Project Manager. You can find her on LinkedIn.