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The federal government has long recognised the importance of deriving actionable insights from curated data to inform policy development, measure progress, and judge effectiveness of government programs. This approach is emphasised in legislation such as the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, codified in January of 2019.

This legislation requires that federal agencies develop 'learning agendas' that are tied to the strategic plan of the organisation and demonstrate, through the use of data and data analytics or “evidence,” that the mission programs are delivering results and the impact is as originally intended. In addition, the legislation also requires that a data analytics capability be established within the agency under the purview of a chief data officer to execute this responsibility.

As a supporting mechanism for the effective use of data within the federal government, the Office of Management and Budget released on June 4th, 2019, the Data Strategy Memorandum M-19-18, Federal Data Strategy—A Framework for Consistency, which provided a mission statement, principles, and practices to provide a government-wide vision for how agencies should manage and use federal data by 2030. Federal agencies have since made progress against these goals and are still in the process of maturing their effective use of data analytics in policy-making and governance.

In this report, the author has derived conclusions regarding agency progress based on a systematic review of these efforts. This review draws on a survey of professionals working in and with federal agencies to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how the government uses analytics, the outcomes of these efforts, and the challenges agencies face in their work to further develop analytical capabilities.

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