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Appendix E: CalData merger with ODI

Below is additional detail on CalData work to deliver on the statewide data strategy, including planning for our data services via the Data and Innovation Fund (DIF).

Building the roads to streamline data access

Cradle-to-Career (C2C) data system

Policy makers and education leaders don’t have information on longer-term outcomes for students, how outcomes vary for different types of students, and how state investments could better address structural inequities. That is why California is building the Cradle-to-Career data system so that we can link information on education, social service, workforce training, and employment. With linked data policy makers and the public can better focus local improvement efforts and advocate for changes to local and state policy.

CalData has been a key supporter of C2C. CalData helped hire initial staff, onboarded initial staff, including the executive director, supported the project approval lifecycle process and related procurement, and continues to serve as a key strategic and technical advisor.

Shared and trusted datasets

Departments often need to use similar data, like addresses, department names, parcels, roadways, and more. These data often contribute to broader program or administrative needs like monitoring housing development, identifying communities prone to adverse impacts from climate change, or identifying communities of concern for grants and resources to name a few. Departments often acquire or create their own version of these datasets. This can lead to duplication in terms of effort and money. In addition, this can result in data not matching or being inconsistent across departments.

For example, the State Water Resources Control Board led the acquisition of imagery with the financial contributions from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Parks and Recreation with executive support from the Statewide chief data officer (CDO). This can now be used by any state entity under the agreement, bringing down overall costs to state entities.

CalData wants to help departments create a set of shared and trusted datasets that all state entities can use (published as open data when appropriate). While this is a multi-year effort, below are some initial steps.

Master state entity list

The state lacks a comprehensive list of state entities that is up-to-date, complete, and readily usable. This makes it difficult to answer basic questions like “what % of departments have completed their telework policy.” Instead, departments scramble to create their own ad hoc lists. In one case, a department spent three weeks creating a list that still varied from other departments’ lists. A single list will streamline efforts and ensure we are all looking at the same data.

CalData has begun development of this single list. We conducted interviews with key departments including the Department of Finance, State Controller’s Office, Department of Human Resources, Department of General Services, Secretary of State, and Department of Technology (CDT) to determine who is the best source for attributes like number of employees or department codes. We mapped their data sources and key attributes to a common standardized output, and will help departments automate a single shared list, published as open data so everyone can use the same dataset.

Identify core dataset needs

To determine what datasets will give the greatest returns on investment, CalData collected dataset priorities from multiple agencies across the state. Additionally, the cross-agency Housing and Transportation Working Group including Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency; California State Transportation Agency; and the California Environmental Protection Agency collected a wish list across multiple departments and shared it with CalData to inform prioritization. Finally, CalData conducted research on sources for acquisition to get a sense of options and potential costs. CalData will seek to partner with the statewide Geographic Information Officer on next steps.

Open data

California should be a leader in open data, making high-quality data reliably available for state and public users, and setting a model for government transparency. In collaboration with CDT, CalData assessed the open data landscape in California, including market research, interviews and user research. CalData presented the findings from this research to state stakeholders and partner agencies. CalData also conducted research and developed a proof of concept for a more accessible and user-friendly open data portal in collaboration with CDT.

CalData continues to participate in the AB1755 Partner Agency Team and related working groups to advance open and transparent water data. The Partner Agency Team is the governing group that steers the implementation AB1755. As part of CalData’s participation they provide expertise and advice around best practices in open data and is helping to execute the work with the partner agencies.

Defining rules of the road to improve data management

Modernizing data jobs classifications

To continue to improve services, state data teams need to both promote and attract people with modern data skills. Modern data skills will reduce reliance on costly contractors, improve use of data, and help the state be an employer of choice.

To modernize our data job classifications, under the guidance of CalHR, we conducted extensive research on public and private sector best practices; partnered closely with a working group of data leaders across the state; and developed a draft proposal. We conducted a preliminary briefing with CalHR for feedback and will continue to work closely with them and other partners to refine the proposal.

Interagency Data Exchange Agreement (IDEA)

Holistic solutions require holistic data. That means we need to share and combine data across departments to understand the impact of our services in multiple areas such as education, housing, economic stability, health, and more.

Historically, data sharing agreements have been time consuming and complex. To streamline this process, we scaled the California Health and Human Services’ (CHSS) agency data sharing agreement across the state. IDEA is a single legal framework that accelerates data exchanges between state entities, so impactful data-driven projects can get done more efficiently. Over 100 state entities are signed onto IDEA.

CalData manages and supports the IDEA process. This past year we published a public guidebook and resource library. We also monitor submissions, answer questions, update materials, and solicit feedback. Initial results have been impressive – the majority of users report that it has simplified the process, reduced negotiation, and led to faster data delivery. After CHHS adopted IDEA, completion time for data sharing agreements went from 2–3 years to an average of 79 days.

Evaluation research and coaching

To know where to invest and what programs to scale, departments need to be able to measure the impact of their investments. CalData has begun to support this process by offering trainings on rigorous methods of evaluation as well as advising other departments in their evaluation efforts, including supporting the Office of Public School Construction on the evaluation design for their Regional K16 Collaboratives Grant Program. In addition, we are collaborating with the Labor & Workforce Development Agency to develop agency-level approaches that can be adapted statewide. Lastly, we did landscape research of evaluations at the state to begin to inform shared learnings, language, and communities around evaluation.

Executive order on equity

To understand how the state is meeting the needs of our marginalized groups, we need to compare apples to apples across programs and departments. But the state lacks shared approaches for collecting race and ethnicity data and for creating equity measures. Executive Order N-16-22 directs ODI to develop statewide standards and practices around issues of data equity, including:

  • Standards for collecting and managing race and ethnicity data,
  • Metrics for measuring and tracking equity in state services and programs, and
  • Service delivery standards to support equity.

CalData is leading the development of race and ethnicity data collection standards, including but not limited to race and ethnicity, and best practices around equity metric development, in consultation with partners and other agencies across the state. We have made significant progress in planning, developing a project charter and timeline, briefing GovOps partners, connecting to existing statewide equity groups, and seeding partnerships to help support as we work towards a June 2023 deadline.

Boosting the travelers by building skills and capacity

Data career fair and teams microsite

The state has thousands of vacancies for data roles. Hiring data roles is difficult given the competition for talent. The Statewide CDO and CHHS CDO and their staff are piloting methods to improve recruitment with the intent of scaling the methods that work across the state.

We piloted virtual job fairs at UCSD, UCLA, and Stanford in partnership with the CHHS Center for Data Insights and Innovation and other GovOps and CHHS departments. From these fairs, we got feedback and recommendations to incorporate into Spring events.

We also participated in an in-person data jobs fair at UC Berkeley, as well as in a hackathon with Berkeley data science student groups, which had over 20 project teams, many of which used state data.

Finally, we developed a microsite to feature data teams across the state, making it easier for job seekers to find and apply for data roles.

We will use the lessons learned from these pilots to expand our efforts to support recruitment in the next year.

Roadmap planning for CalAcademy data sections

We want to maximize the impact of the data staff the state employs. Part of that means ensuring they have access to the training they need to be successful. We assessed available training and there is a gap around recent data and analysis methods and tools. To begin to meet this need, we have drafted two courses for PowerBI, covering both an introduction and an intermediate course. We successfully tested these courses in a virtual format with CalHR’s Financial Management Division resulting in the rapid automation of several manual reports. We plan to adapt this approach in both CalAcademy, ODI’s training arm, and through our DIF offerings.

Data communities of practice

As the central state data team, we prioritize sharing knowledge and connecting people and teams to accelerate learning and collaboration. Communities of Practice bring interested staff together around different shared topics like data literacy, data governance, and data tools. This model of engagement has been shown to improve innovation and collaboration and improve adoption of modern practices that can benefit Californians.

To develop a statewide data community of practice, we created and manage a virtual online space for state employees who are interested in data. As of writing, it includes over 800 members. We have hosted over 15 webinars or demos open to state employees on a variety of data topics, from ethics to open data to data tools. We also send a monthly newsletter to over 500 employees, including both our own updates as well as space to highlight departments data announcements and job opportunities.

Results for America honorable designation

CalData seeks to lift up and recognize the amazing work being done across the state. This year, for the first time, the State of California received an honorable designation from Results for America’s What Works Standard of Excellence, a national honor for exemplary data and evidence-based practices. To qualify for the designation, CalData collected, curated, and submitted examples of excellence from across the state to feature California’s leading practices. The CDO spoke at the launch event, with other leading figures in the use of data and evidence in government.

Developing DIF data services

To date, CalData has focused on border capacity building and statewide support. While we will continue this work, the merger provides us with the opportunity–through the DIF–to take on client projects with departments.

In addition to supporting the data portions of existing ODI and DIF projects, namely the Victims Compensation Board, the benefits identifier, and CalHR projects, we are excited to launch a set of data focused services for our next DIF cohort in 2023.

CalData has spent a significant amount of time preparing for this cohort, including developing our three data services, hiring our team and ensuring capacity, and acquiring and building our data platform. Over the last few months we have scoped and refined our three service offerings:

  1. The Analytics Accelerator will help teams streamline mandatory reporting to save time and reduce costs. Teams will learn how to convert burdensome, repetitive manual processes to streamlined and automated reports using tools like PowerBI.
  2. The Modern Data Stack Accelerator will help teams rapidly learn and adopt modern cloud based data tools to solve problems like combining data across systems or program areas. Departments often rely on costly and time consuming RFPs or contractors to do this work. This experimental service will test if we can meet this need in a way that is faster and cheaper. In partnership with CDT, we will assess if this service should be expanded based on what we learn.
  3. The Data Science Accelerator will help teams harness the power of advanced analytics and statistics to improve their services. Teams will work with us to refine a problem, identify the right statistical method to address it, and implement a service change to improve based on what we learn.