Government agencies ultimately have the same objectives: support the public good and maintain the integrity of its programs. Our recent survey with the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), Reduce Government Fraud with a Dynamic Approach, found that data sharing can improve fraud prevention and detection efforts, but for various reasons, this data sharing is very limited. In fact, 51% of survey respondents indicated they were unable to access critical data needed to support anti-fraud program efforts.
Here we explore benefits of data sharing and steps to improve agency transparency and break down siloes.
Foster a foundation of trust. Rather than just saying no because it is hard, collaborate between the parties that are sharing data to find a solution and trust each other to protect the data. This may take time and resources; however, the result can have long-lasting impact and build trust with society. Consider incentives like funding and career advancement for programs and individuals that focus on data sharing and collaboration.
Establish controls over data quality and security. The data owner should be confident that the data is reliable for the data user to make informed decisions. In exchange, the data user should provide assurance on how they protect the data. Both objectives can be achieved through a strong control environment around data inputs, security, and transfers.
Develop strong teams with diverse backgrounds to promote data sharing and analysis. Remember that projects thrive when you bring a variety of technical skills, backgrounds, and viewpoints to meet the objectives. Consider developing a team across both organizations that are well-versed in the data sources and uses, and supplement them with data analysts, data scientists, and system developers/integrators, as appropriate.
While data sharing and transparency cannot happen overnight, by taking the above steps, agencies can foster a culture of sharing and trust to support the public good and maintain program integrity.