Top 3 for 2013 - Jon Desenberg on the year of the data scientist

Thursday - 1/3/2013, 7:36pm EST

Jon Desenberg, policy director, Performance Institute

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2013 might be the year of the data scientist.

Jon Desenberg, the policy director at the Performance Institute explains why he thinks building a data-scientist career track will be top of mind for many federal agencies.

Jon Desenberg's Top 3 for 2013
  1. Theories, Hunches and Patterns - Year of the Data Scientist — The value and costs of gathering, collecting, storing, owning, analyzing and utilizing information grows more complex by the day. 2013 will be the year individuals, corporations, and government organizations move from monitoring a complex situation to proactively engaging and managing the valuable information they already own. 2013 will be the Year of the Data Scientist, the professional analyst who strategically weighs the costs and benefits of data mining and begins to form the algorithms behind causation theories. The US Office of Personnel Management, under the auspices of the Government Performance Results Modernization Act (GPRMA) is already moving quickly to codify a new performance analyst / data scientist position as a standard new occupation throughout the Federal community. Those who can excel in forming theories, testing hunches, and finding patterns to predict future outcomes will be in high demand. While it's true that more of our data is being collected, mined and stored, that doesn't mean people know what to do with it. There aren't enough qualified experts (analysts, sociologists, strategists, etc) to mine all this data. 2013 will be the year we focus less on data and start thinking about how to understand, interpret and make good use of it.

  2. Gold Rush - The Land Grab for Personnel Data — The ramifications of the new occupation described above become clear as you observe the huge dollar value locked in data. Just as we've experienced the Gold Rush and Oil Booms, look to 2013 as the year of the Information Land Grab, with companies like Facebook, Instagram, and others claiming individuals' information and government agencies increasingly trying to secure privacy and intellectual property rights. The power and value of information drives the business model that that allows so many free mobile applications, social networks and other virtual communities that have become our virtual neighborhoods. But what is government's role in regulating this new world and how will it impact the private sector's need to build a viable business framework? What responsibility does government have over its own increasingly large collection of data and will this responsibility impact our ability to use it, evaluate our effectiveness and make better decisions? These are all questions that will come to the forefront in 2013.

  3. Breaking through the Silos - Interagency and Intergovernmental Collaboration — Yes, there are a lot of negatives to the coming year's Federal budget, but one positive trend is the inter-agency integration of measurement, results and shared accountability. There's been plenty of talk on this subject for years, but only very recently has legislation, tight resources, and better data and reporting allowed for real progress. Be prepared for a Congress that has slowly moved away from appropriator in-fighting with new laws like the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME) which requires the Departments of Agriculture and Interior to not only work together, but develop joint metric and accountability tools. OMB's Performance Goals have gained traction and showed success in places by bringing together VA and HUD on veterans' homelessness and will pick up steam in 2013 as budgets require the end of duplication and overlap. While new governance and management practices are required, the senior most leadership, all the way to the Secretary level, has shown commitment to joint efforts throughout 2012 and will build momentum in 2013.