In recent years, state governments have launched a series of efforts designed to improve competitive, integrated employment outcomes for individuals with significant disabilities.
This Employment First initiative has provided a framework for major system changes supporting the idea that those with the most significant disabilities can participate in competitive integrated employment and community life.
There are many challenges with implementation of such a large-scale program on a state level, but one of the most prevalent is the ability to get detailed data from third party providers so that state agencies can measure the efficacy of their programs and report back to the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) for those who have requested federal assistance.
By following certain best practices and leveraging technology tools, it is possible to improve this process and collect better data.
Identifying Key Best Practices in Government Data Collection
The needs of every state government program will be slightly different, but there are several specific changes that can be made to drive these improvements, including:
- Moving Away from Manual Processes – Many state employment agencies still use Excel spreadsheets for data collection and organization. The manual process of updating and processing these spreadsheets can be extremely limiting. Technology tools allow agencies to streamline their efforts and improve the process immensely.
- Web Based Interface for Collection – Web-based data collection allows for greater flexibility for providers, state agency specialists and key stakeholders. It also ensures greater continuity if a key member of a provider team leaves their job and reduces the risk of inconsistent or incomplete reporting.
- Handling of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – Many state agencies are wary of technology tools because of perceived risks in how they handle PII. Tools that anonymize PII and don’t store anything in their databases are recommended to reduce this risk.
- Establishing a Set Standard for Data Collection – By formalizing a list of questions that can be programmed in a web-based interface, state agencies can standardize the data collection process for all providers. This enables key stakeholders to better evaluate results when they are provided.
Many state leads and coordinators have never been asked to have such a high level of accountability for their programs. The increased need to justify Employment First Initiative (EFI) programs means that traditional spreadsheet-based methods are no longer sufficient. Best practice in 2018 means moving to a cloud-based data collection solution that streamlines the process, improves accuracy and reliability, and empowers stakeholders to analyze data at a higher level.
Investing in A Better Data Collection Solution for State Government
State HR specialists struggling to improve their data collection efforts will find that many potential solutions are not designed for government use. To learn more about how EconSys has developed a Data Collection tool specifically for state government use, download our recent case study, Data Collection on Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Disabilities. In, you’ll learn how we worked with states like Alabama and Tennessee to improve data collection best practices, enhance internal reporting, and grow employment first initiatives.