Applying the Principle of “Sharing” to Accountability and Data

August 29, 2012
Author: Bill Crim, Senior Vice President of Collective Impact and Public Policy datapost

We all learn to share (hopefully) from an early age.  This universal principle often governs our private interactions and behaviors, but can be challenging when applied in our organizational and institutional lives – especially when it comes to data.  

There are good reasons for this, of course.  In the private sector, where organizational objectives are not typically shared, it doesn’t make sense to share data with competitors.  In all settings (private, public and non-profit) privacy is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to sensitive personal and financial information.

But when it comes to solving complex community problems – problems for which we all share accountability – we know that individual organizations and institutions cannot succeed alone.  And we know that to work effectively together we have to share data.  At the individual level, this is critical in order to effectively target interventions and to know, in real-time, if interventions are having the desired effect.  Importantly, this has to be done within the bounds of state and federal laws and with the knowledge and permission of individuals whose data is being shared.  At the community level, this is essential to know whether or not we are succeeding in solving the problems we are tackling.

While there are many barriers to implementing shared data and accountability systems, UWSL and our Promise Partnerships are working through these challenges to make this a reality here in Utah.  With the support of Regence BlueCross BlueShield and the Promise Neighborhoods Institute, UWSL and our partners are implementing both a “rapid-time” data sharing system for individuals and a Promise Scorecard data system for community level data.

Our Promise Scorecard system tracks health, education, and financial stability data for each of our community partnerships – and will show progress over time as we work to improve the health, financial stability and educational outcomes in each Promise Partnership.  According to the Results Leadership Group, the developers of the Results-Based Accountability Framework and the Promise Scorecard, “The scorecard is a platform for transparent, collaborative, and data-driven decision-making, which UWSL has fully embraced and implemented in their resolve to achieve results in their community. UWSL is at the forefront of the Promise Neighborhood initiative in their use of the Promise Scorecard as tool to report their data and demonstrate their progress.”

Over the next year, our rapid-time data sharing system will allow partners to improve the efficiency and quality of individual data collection, and to share appropriate data with other partners in order to target efforts more effectively.   Together these systems will support the tremendous work being done in UWSL’s Promise Partnerships by the many individuals, organizations, and institutions that are committed to working together in new ways to actually SOLVE the complex challenges facing our communities.

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Jerilyn Stowe
Vice President of Marketing & Communication 801.736.7709