Roundtable: Building Better Data Systems for Better Decisions within the Field of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration
(Public and Non-Profit Management and Finance)

Friday, November 3, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
San Francisco (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  Michael Shires, Pepperdine University
Moderators:  Michael Shires, Pepperdine University
Speakers:  Stacy Drudy, NASPAA, Sandra Archibald, University of Washington, Kaye Husbands Fealing, Georgia Institute of Technology and Jaeun Shin, KDI School of Public Policy and Management

This roundtable, in keeping with the conference theme “Measurement Matters: Better for Better Decisions,” will explore the ways that our current data systems inform policy decisions within our profession—looking at the data available for both educational institutions and employers in the field of public affairs and public policy. While much work is done globally looking at information systems associated with public policy initiatives, only a limited set of work is more specifically directed at the details and dynamics of the profession of public policy, affairs and administration. As a result, our conversations and thinking about changes in the discipline, pedagogy, and even labor markets is often anecdotal and, at best, informed by very small sample sizes. This roundtable will broaden that conversation to explore ways that the field, and specifically its two anchor professional associations, NASPAA and APPAM, can work to improve the availability, quality, and timeliness of important professional data. It will draw on the data collection efforts by both NASPAA and APPAM to identify the strengths of those information systems as well as to engage a broader conversation about what else is needed and will be needed in the future to inform both strategic and tactical decisions by public policy educators and employers. The roundtable includes those closest to the two organizations’ current data collection efforts, and will foster an open exchange between the panelists and the audience about areas where additional information systems can and need to be developed. In an era of big data and data analytics, the profession, like many of its constituent institutions, has been slow to adapt modern innovative technologies to enable better, more real-time resources for decision-making. The panelists will focus on several questions in their discussion, including: 1. What are the strengths and limits of current data resources? 2. What is possible and/or desirable in the near-term for improving data availability and usability for public policy institutions and organizations? 3. What lessons can be taken from the successes of other institutional settings? 4. What roles can and should APPAM and NASPAA play in building these new information infrastructures? To further this dialogue, the roundtable will include APPAM members who are active users of current data systems, as well as the director from the NASPAA Data Center. Because of the increasing global scope of the policy profession, the panel will also include a representative from an international institution to help the conversation understand and frame these issues from the broader, international perspective. Some additional topics that will likely be engaged include benchmarking, educating the public about the field, assisting student decision-making, addressing the current limitations of the data (including inconsistent and sometimes low participation rates), and the cost of sustaining data systems and infrastructures.