USDA Succeeding on Data Analytics Effort

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeing strong results from its effort to expand data analytics across the agency, and is meeting targets and exceeding goals on stakeholder buy-in, according to a June 20 update to the agency’s goals under the President’s Management Agenda.

The agency has created three dashboards so far, offering insights to the agency’s C-suite, the Farm Production and Conservation mission area, and the Rural Development mission area, with dashboards for USDA’s Natural Resources and Environment mission area and the Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services mission area coming in Q3 of fiscal year 2019.

In order to support the dashboards, the CIO’s office has been working with mission areas and other agency officials to “ensure data management practices are at a level necessary for rapid advances in analytics.” USDA is applying a data management maturity model from the Capability Maturity Model Integration Institute across the agency and is offering to training to mission areas with dashboards. USDA is also establishing communities of practice to break down agency siloes and share best practices on growing data-driven decision making.

USDA is also developing an internal data portal, which will allow different teams to share data relevant to interagency teams and support deep dives into data visualizations.

Data efforts at USDA are drawing a large amount of attention. The CIO’s office set a goal of 3,400 clicks per month on its dashboards, but since March, the agency has been far exceeding that goal, reaching 11,325 clicks in May. Dashboards are in use for all quarterly strategic reviews from the deputy secretary’s office, and the agency is close to its goal of six mission-area dashboards by the end of fiscal year 2019. In order to support further adoption, USDA is compiling success stories and sticking to its communications plan to ensure components adopt a data driven approach.

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