Centering Equity Across the Administrative Data Life Cycle

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Amy Hawn Nelson


Data integration by local and state governments is undertaken for the public good to support the interconnected needs of families and communities. And though data infrastructure is a powerful tool to support equity-oriented reforms, equity is rarely centered as a core goal for data integration. This raises fundamental concerns, as integrated data increasingly provide the raw materials for evaluation, research, and risk modeling. This session presents findings from a toolkit collaboratively generated by a workgroup convened by Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

While data sharing occurs within a legal framework, an emphasis on equity is often peripheral. Generally, institutions have not adequately examined and acknowledged structural bias in their history, or the ways in which data reflects systemic inequities in the development and administration of policies and programs. Meanwhile, the public are rarely consulted in the development and use of data systems.

Objectives and Approach
This toolkit was collaboratively generated by a workgroup of civic data stakeholders from across the US.

The toolkit aims to support agencies seeking to acknowledge and compensate for the harms and bias baked into data and practice. It is organized across six stages of the administrative data life cycle—planning, data collection, data access, use of algorithms and statistical tools, analysis, and reporting and dissemination. For each stage, the toolkit includes promising and problematic practices for centering equity in administrative data reuse, with site-based examples of work in action from across the US.

Conclusion / Implications
The workgroup concluded that centering equity within data integration efforts is not a binary outcome, but rather a series of small steps towards more equitable practice. There are countless ways to center equity across the administrative data reuse life cycle, and this report provides concrete strategies for agencies, organizations and collaboratives to begin and grow that work in practice.

Article Details

How to Cite
Nelson, A. H. (2020) “Centering Equity Across the Administrative Data Life Cycle”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1522.