Peering Within: Breaking Down Silos to Create Data-Driven Solutions
Author: Valerie Braxton-Williams, Confidential Assistant for Policy; Timothy Kestner, Director of Economic Information Services
December 11, 2015
The Virginia Employment Commission is thrilled to be a part of the effort of the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) to create a pathway to data driven solutions. That pride is multidimensional. We supply critical information to VLDS on wages, taxes paid by Virginia employers to support the unemployment trust fund, demographic information about UI participants in the job search program, and training programs for workers affected by the Trade Act, to name a few. This is but one benefit of our collaboration.
Just as importantly, partnering with VLDS has compelled our agency to be more introspective. We are breaking down internal silos to coalesce diverse divisions within the agency to evaluate the culture of how we do business, and to make the necessary changes to become a viable part of the Commonwealth’s network for information collection, sharing, and research on a much larger scale.
VLDS has no doubt impacted its other partner agencies in the same manner. We have effectively come together to provide sometimes vastly different data in a manner that facilitates VLDS achieving its mission of providing a cost-effective mechanism for extracting, shaping and analyzing partner agency data in an environment that ensures the highest levels of privacy. Before the establishment of VLDS, this type of collaborative effort did not exist.
Each participating agency maintains control of its data, but provides access in a regulated manner to VLDS for data mining and analysis to address policy issues and questions regarding education and workforce. Once vague ideologies about how education, healthcare, social programs, and the workforce system align are now clearly defined. Research sponsored by partner agencies, using data extracted through VLDS, promote understanding of societal relationships in areas that heretofore may not have been viewed as intertwined.
Peering within, each participating agency has a clear path that defines how its specific data ties into the bigger picture. We also have an understanding that all of our agency missions are interdependent and reliant on successful outcomes for the Commonwealth. Our role to better serve the people of Virginia as never before, mandates that our decisions need to be data-driven and the mission of VLDS makes this possible in an unparalleled fashion.