Above the Weeds: Sowing Responsibility, Cultivating Results

Author: Valerie Braxton-Williams & Timothy Kestner
July 14, 2016

Authors: Valerie Braxton-Williams, Confidential Assistant for Policy;

Timothy Kestner, Director Economic Information and Analytics

In regard to VLDS data, the objective of academic and institutional research of Virginia’s many outstanding institutions of higher education is to obtain knowledge and understanding of data in a manner that will result in the development of new or improved policies, processes, and services that will enhance the lives of the citizens of the Commonwealth. This approach is consistent with the objectives of the VLDS.

As public servants, the agencies that partner to provide data to the VLDS are constantly mindful that this endeavor is bigger than any one agency or their divisions. We consistently and diligently maintain our focus on the VLDS vision to ensure continuous improvement in Virginia’s education system, workforce opportunities, and delivery of other state services. VLDS aligns with Executive Directive 7, “to leverage the use of shared data and data analytics among state agencies to improve services and outcomes, maximize the use of resources, and increase the return on investment of citizens’ tax dollars in state government.”

Participation in VLDS requires that each agency carefully consider the investment of time, resources, and funding necessary to drive the selection of the appropriate data collection methods based on the research questions that need to be addressed. This may greatly differ among agencies depending on the type of data selected. Agencies must decide before collecting and disseminating data what they want to learn, who the target audience is, and how they will be able to use the results of research in a comprehensive, meaningful manner to effect change. Agencies participating in the VLDS assume a tremendous responsibility in the realm of policy decisions.

In doing so, it is of the utmost importance that we strive to ensure a streamlined approach to accessibility of the data our VLDS alliance produces, so that the ease of use ensures continued interest and support from the user community. In the same tone, the consumption of data will benefit from this position.

As such, the Commonwealth needs to engage in a vigorous marketing campaign to make colleges and universities aware of the availability of VLDS data to ensure accessibility to the information for efficient and timely retrieval and consumption of the data for research. This will accelerate the pace of knowledge dissemination and systematic utilization of that knowledge. We must aggressively generate sustained interest in VLDS data that will inspire researchers to be on the cutting edge of research that answers burning questions about social phenomena that are pivotal to Virginia’s citizens and policymakers.

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