GEAR Center Challenge Pilot

We know the more government can collect, manage, analyze, and lead with quality data, the better the results. Our GEAR Center Challenge pilot, launched in fall 2019, is training federal practitioners to improve the use of data for decision-making and accountability, including for policy-development, innovation, oversight, and learning.

In September 2019, the Volcker Alliance, Centers for Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins University (Civic Impact), and the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) won the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center Challenge grand prize. The $300,000 prize was awarded by the US General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and supports a collaborative effort to train 250 federal practitioners in the Kansas City region in data management, analytics, and communicating with data. The award represents an investment in leveraging data as a strategic asset and developing a talented and prepared federal workforce for the 21st century.

Over the course of the year-long collaboration, we are:

  • Developing a customized training curriculum designed to help federal practitioners better use data to make decisions that facilitate achievement of core agency aims;
  • Delivering the training curriculum to 250 federal practitioners in the Kansas City region; and
  • Documenting recommendations regarding the most promising strategies for sustainability and scale, both in the Kansas City region and nationally.

Working with more than 140 governments and over 4,000 government practitioners to date, Centers for Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins University has amassed a wealth of information about best practices for data use and management in the public sector at the municipal level. This collaboration creates an opportunity for Civic Impact to leverage its unparalleled expertise to tailor a training curriculum for the federal workforce.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), through its role as lead agency in the Volcker Alliance’s Government-to-University Initiative (G2U) in Kansas City, works closely with local partners and the Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board to drive implementation on-the-ground, recruit federal practitioners, and identify best practices to inform future training efforts.

In this effort, the Volcker Alliance provides overarching project management and coordination, and is collecting and documenting lessons learned regarding strategies for sustainability and scale.

Curriculum design was informed directly by federal partners in the region. Based on assessment of skill gaps and interest, content is focused on three core topics: data inventorying, strengthening analytic inquiries, and communicating with data.

This first cohort of participating agencies includes:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency;
  • Internal Revenue Service;
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration;
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • US General Services Administration; and
  • US Office of Personnel Management.

As training progresses, project partners are collecting feedback from learners and adapting prospective delivery of course content.  

We are proud of this powerful partnership and its potential to strengthen the public workforce throughout the country.