Volcker Alliance Launches Interactive Data Lab on State Budget Practices
The Volcker Alliance is making available large volumes of in-depth state budgeting research for public use through a new online Data Laboratory. The data platform, which builds on the Volcker Alliance’s ongoing fiscal governance initiatives, aggregates three years of performance data on all fifty states as well as their respective annual report cards containing grades given to each state by the Volcker Alliance in five broad budgeting categories.
Based on the Alliance’s November 2017 study, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: What is the Reality?, the Data Lab adapts the findings into a rich array of datasets and brings close to 4,000 data points to life through interactive charts and visual comparison tools designed for use by an array of digital audiences.
“The Data Lab is a powerful tool for anyone interested in analyzing and understanding how a state’s budget is being managed,” said William Glasgall, senior vice president and director of the Volcker Alliance’s state and local initiatives. “It also allows users to rapidly sort data and easily build customized comparisons across states to identify how a given state’s budgetary practices differ from those of other states. Noticing those differences—and seeing how other states have successfully applied best practices in a way that your state hasn’t—can be a powerful motivation for change.”
This platform provides elected officials, public employees, investors, policy advocates, and citizens with a reservoir of historical data from fiscal year 2015 through 2017, and will equip them with flexible research tools easily tailored by state, category, year, grade, or budget practice to help users across the US determine and improve their state’s fiscal governance and sustainability.
Thomas W. Ross, president of the Volcker Alliance said, “The Volcker Alliance is dedicated to advancing effective management of government—government that successfully delivers results that matter to its citizens. One step toward helping citizens understand how governments are managing our tax dollars—and whether government is doing so effectively or not—is to unpack how each state manages its funds. Our analysis has identified best practices and areas for improvement in each state. By making the data behind our analysis publicly available, we hope to aid more effective management of public resources.”
On the heels of the Alliance’s recent report Preparing Tomorrow’s Public Service, which explored the skills and competencies most needed to prepare the next generation of great public servants, today’s launch exemplifies the Volcker Alliance’s enthusiasm for government research that serves the present and future civic leaders of America. “Part of our goal in launching the Data Lab,” continued Mr. Ross, “is to provide data and analysis that supports current and emerging leaders in public service to optimize data-driven decisions, enhance transparency about government operations, and explain the work of government better to the public.”
The Data Lab and the Volcker Alliance’s series of Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting reports are the result of a multi-year study conducted in partnership with more than fifty professors and graduate students in public finance and budgeting at eleven US schools of public administration or policy. Mr. Glasgall indicated that the initiative will continue to generate new research and data-mining tools: “Our goal is to continually enhance the functionality available within the Data Lab. We plan to add more analytical and visualization tools as well as our analysis and grades for states’ fiscal year 2018 budgets, before the end of the year.”