Chapin Hall Work Wins Award from American Society for Public Administration

Left to right: Dr. Leah Gjertson, Dr. Robert Goerge, and Emily Wiegand.

An article by Chapin Hall researchers was selected as the winner of the 2018 Louis Brownlow Award for the best article for a practitioner audience in the Public Administration Review. The article, State Agencies’ Use of Administrative Data for Improved Practice: Needs, Challenges, and Opportunities,” was based on in-depth interviews with almost 100 human service agency staff about the realities of administrative data use.

Chapin Hall researchers who worked on the research include Emily Wiegand, Colleen Schlecht, and Robert Goerge. The principal author was Scott Allard of the University of Washington, and other contributing authors were A. Rupa Datta of NORC at the University of Chicago, and Elizabeth Weigensberg of Mathematica Policy Research.

The National Academy of Public Administration recognizes outstanding contributions to the literature of public administration through this annual award.  Judges look for work that provides new insights, fresh analysis, and original ideas that contribute to the understanding of the role of governmental institutions and how they can most effectively serve the public.

This article explored the challenges that public administrators face in effectively using administrative data – from data access to being able to effectively analyze the data that they do have. The article was based on work done under the Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

“We found that administrative data users fall along a continuum,” said Wiegand. “On one end you have some that use data only for mandatory compliance. On the other you have agencies with sophisticated capacity to analyze and use data to inform policy and practice.”

The article further describes the characteristics of agencies with strong data cultures. “We find states seeking to become field-leading learners build and share comprehensive data resources, participate in creative discussions about data analytics and program design, and support the learning of data users,” the authors conclude in their discussion.

The Louis Brownlow award will presented at the annual American Society for Public Administration conference in Washington, DC, Monday, March 11. Chapin Hall is continuing its work exploring state and territory use of data and how practitioners can develop practices to better track and improve outcomes for children and families.