Many in public administration are implementing evidence-based policies in response to increased accountability standards. Some larger municipalities have adopted “smart cities” models where new technologies often provide instantaneous data enabling them to readily react to changing conditions and thus the potential to make timely adjustments to the provision and allocation of their services. Many municipalities, however, are currently dealing with a deluge of data for which they need assistance with analysis and interpretation. By detecting patterns and associations in your data, we can help you to strategically plan and manage the provision of public services as well as identify problems, unmet needs, and inefficiencies in the provision of services.
Public policies or programs are variously supported by stakeholders, which can make some evaluation efforts problematic to conduct internally. As independent consultants, we can provide the neutral objectivity needed in order to prevent biases from unduly influencing research designs, analyses, and the presentation of findings. We have three groups of public sector clients: planning & management, public health, and criminal justice & law enforcement.
Planning & Management. Assistance can be provided with benchmarking studies, preparation of mandated performance assessments, program evaluation (e.g., to assess the impact of a job training program on increased wages, the effect of increased inspections on code violations), or efficiency assessments (e.g., a cost comparison analysis of private versus publicly operated garbage collection). We can also help evaluate the impact of social marketing campaigns (e.g., to encourage water conservation, participation in recycling programs, use of public transportation, to avoid texting-while-driving, to reduce code violations). We can also apply data mining to help reduce costs and improve resource allocation, reduce fraud, waste, and abuse, and better manage risks and streamline processes.
Population estimates and projections can be derived, which can help you properly budget and plan for human resources, to estimate land use and facility needs, as well as with proposals for political redistricting. Estimates and projections are indispensable for making informed decisions regarding zoning, the location of public facilities (e.g., schools, fire station sites, parks, low-income housing developments), planning of mass transportation routes, managing logistics, etc. Census data can be linked with local administrative data (e.g., economic, public health, crime statistics), GIS mapping used to represent spatial variation and analyze trends. Relevant indicators can be incorporated into your study, including demographically relevant variables (e.g., per capita income, average household size, migration rates), measures of community disorganization or group disadvantage (e.g., poverty & unemployment ratios, adult illiteracy ratio, median family income, high school dropout rates), and public health indicators (e.g., teen pregnancy rates, incidence and prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, infectious or chronic diseases, disability rates, infant mortality rates).
Public Health. Biostatistical methods can be applied to analyze epidemiological data and identify risk factors related to the occurrence and distribution of infectious or chronic diseases (i.e., demographic, risk exposures, and behavioral descriptors). Assistance can be provided with evaluations of interventions (e.g., treatments to improve mental health statuses, drug abuse prevention), social marketing programs that aim to promote health-protective behavior (e.g., to prevent adolescent tobacco uptake, adoption of exercise regimens, promotion healthy diets, prevention childhood obesity) or prevent behavioral health risks (e.g., driving while intoxicated, tobacco use, risky sexual practices). The cost-effectiveness of competing interventions, programs, or treatments can be assessed, whereby the focus is on the measurement of health benefits relative to the costs of the intervention. Data mining can be employed to monitor syndromic behavioral information across sources, in order to identify elevated levels of symptoms, which could signal a disease outbreak.
Our application of demographic techniques (e.g., population estimates & projections, immigration rates, changes in age/sex structure), will enable you to effectively plan for future public health needs, including health care delivery and service needs during potential public health emergencies. Data from public health surveillance systems can be linked with demographic analyses, and GIS mapping can be used to highlight local areas of public health concern. For more information about services we provide to health-related organizations, please [click here].
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement. For the criminal justice and law enforcement community, assistance can be provided for applied research, policy experiments, and evaluations so that best practices can be identified and evidence-based policies can be developed. Our assistance can also include empirical assessments of crime prevention programs, disciplinary policies at prisons/jails, prevention of gang activity and juvenile delinquency, evaluations of community policing, neighborhood crime watch programs, increased police patrols, probation policies, and social marketing campaigns (e.g., to encourage seat belt usage, DUI prevention). Various policies to reduce recidivism can be compared (e.g., punitive sanctions (stiffer penalties) versus rehabilitative policies (e.g., vocational training, conjugal visits, counseling, & therapy)). We can also help illuminate which types of law enforcement training results in better, more effective street-level decision-making by officers.
Law enforcement professionals can be surveyed in order to identify ways to improve policies and procedures. Surveys of prison employees, for example, may reveal policies or management styles result in greater order and safety. Or, surveys of court administrators might reveal specific case flow disruptions, or strategies for improving case processing, or which assessment instruments result in better decision-making among court personnel. Data mining can be applied to identify patterns of suspicious activity and criminal behavior, thus enabling effective deployment of personnel and the identification of possible motives and suspects. Assistance can also be provided with “predictive policing” efforts (including “random forest” modeling systems, the identification of “hot spots” through the application of GIS mapping, etc.).