Government That Works: Data-driven government, a new approach to governing

As mayor of Baltimore and later as Maryland’s chief executive, Governor Martin O’Malley pioneered data-driven decision-making in government. Through programs like CitiStat in Baltimore and StateStat in Maryland, O’Malley implemented a new approach toward governing: using data to drive policy decisions, set goals, measure performance, and increase government transparency.

On March 11, the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings hosted a discussion with Governor Martin O’Malley to explore how data-driven decision-making, open data, and performance measurement can positively impact government policy and effectiveness. This forum centered on ways in which these tools could improve the performance of the federal government–and perhaps begin the process of restoring public trust in the federal government.

Originally appeared on Brookings.

Why 2016 Voters May Favor Governors Over Senators

There’s an old saying in American politics that every senator wakes up in the morning and sees a president in the mirror.

That sort of ambition is also common among governors.

The Republican field is led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In fact, no fewer than a dozen governors and ex-governors are listed among the potential Republican candidates by the Crystal Ball, a political prognostication site sponsored by the University of Virginia.

Prior to the election of former Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, four of the previous five presidents had been governors.

“It helps to be a governor,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. “The reason is that people are looking for executive experience, and they’re looking for executive demeanor — can-do, take-charge individuals.”

The Democratic field is dominated by Hillary Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state. But Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, also seems likely to run.

“Being governor is more like being president than is the job of being senator,” said John Weingart, director of the Center on the American Governor at Rutgers University. “You don’t have to vote on hundreds or thousands of issues that could be used to attack you during the presidential campaign.”

None of this is a guarantee that a governor will be the next president, or even the nominee of either major party. Governors may not have an extensive voting record, but they are judged by their performance.

That can be a positive, but governors with big ambitions find their careers newly scrutinized by a national press corps searching for flaws. Chris Christie of New Jersey, just to cite one example, has received a great deal of negative press lately due to a judge tossing out his package of pension cuts, allegations of cronyism, and the infamous George Washington Bridge incident of 2013.

In addition, governors typically lack experience with defense and foreign policy issues. Walker, while a hero on the right for taking on public-sector unions in Wisconsin, has stumbled when asked questions about the rest of the world.

ISIS and Iran will move foreign affairs higher on the radar of voters than they were back in 2012.

“To the extent that foreign policy and national security continue to be at or near the top of the issue mix, there clearly is an advantage for someone who is a senator, particularly a senator who has been deeply involved in foreign affairs,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant whose firm is working with two senators, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, on their presidential explorations.

But not being seen as a creature of Washington is a big advantage right now. An astonishingly low 5 percent of Americans have a “great deal of confidence” in Congress, according to a recent survey by NORC, an independent research organization at the University of Chicago.

“For Republicans, who seem to be intent on who can be the most critical of Barack Obama and most different than Barack Obama, a few years as governors may be more attractive to primary voters than a couple of years or couple of terms in the Senate,” said Weingart, the Rutgers professor.

Article originally appeared on

Governing: State Per Capita Cyclist Fatalities

Hundreds of cyclists are killed each year in traffic accidents.

Federal statistics indicate 722 bicyclist deaths occurred in 2012, up 6 percent from 2011 and 16 percent from 2010.

On a per capita basis, Florida recorded an annual average of about 5.7 cyclist deaths per million residents, by far the most of any state. The national bicyclist death rate for 2012 was approximately 2.3 deaths per 1 million.

Read More at Governing

Governing: 2014 Public Official of the Year – Rick Snyder

By David Kidd

When Rick Snyder came to the Michigan governor’s office from the private sector in 2011, he brought with him an entrepreneur’s tolerance for risk. “Most elected officials abhor risk. They run from it,” Snyder says. “But if everything we did worked, that means we’re not taking risks.” Good leaders, he says, must assume some risk and accept that not everything they try will be successful.

Read More at Governing

Seattle Times: What we can learn from those who turned from profits to politics

Just two years ago, during his first term at the helm of Colorado, John Hickenlooper did a quick mental survey of his fellow governors and realized something that he found surprising.

By his very rough count, only about five governors, including him, had spent a significant chunk of their professional lives in the private sector and in roles that included the management of dozens of employees. The other governors, many of them career politicians, didn’t have that kind of managerial experience.

Read More at Seattle Times


Business Insider: Meet the Big Data Candidate of the 2016 Presidential Race

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) believes he has discovered a “new way of governing” that could revolutionize Washington.

Throughout his political career, O’Malley has been obsessed with data. Now, he appears to be mulling whether to mount a potential primary challenger to 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton. If he does run, it seems his devotion to performance metrics could become a major part of his platform.

Read More at Business Insider

PEW: Funding Challenges in Transportation Infrastructure

Roads, bridges, and transit are funded through a partnership of the federal government, states, and localities. Over the past 10 years, all levels of government have experienced challenges in funding transportation infrastructure. Revenue for the highway trust fund, the source of most federal funding for the country’s roads and transit infrastructure, has fallen short of expenditures for more than a decade.

Read More at Pew Center for the States


CBPP: States Are Still Funding Higher Education Below Pre-Recession Levels

Most states have begun in the past year to restore some of the cuts they made to higher education funding after the recession hit.  Eight states, though, are still cutting, and in almost all states — including those that are have boosted their support — higher education funding remains well below pre-recession levels.

Read more at The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities" title="GOVERNING: U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits Historic High">

The U.S. high school graduation rate has reached 80 percent as states have made steady progress over the past 10 years. But those gains have been uneven and more needs to be done, education leaders and analysts say.


Rates of Obesity

Colorado has the lowest obesity rate; Louisiana the highest

Results America, dedicated to sharing useful information that states can use to promote their well being, has taken a look at the rate of obesity in 2012. Without question obesity is a national epidemic that requires our attention and understanding to reduce climbing rates.

Rates-of-Obesity_1The data contained in this white paper comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) through a selfreported Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The CDC defines obesity as an individual, possessing a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater. As a nation, the rate of obesity is creeping towards steeper numbers.

Obesity is driven by a state’s particular culture and the nutritional value of its available food. Besides popular culture and a lack of physical education, our nation provides an environment where inexpensive processed food is more readily available. So, states have to contend with a surplus of processed food on one hand and a deficit of physical activity on the other. In addition, we are witnessing a strong correlation between poverty and obesity rates among the states. This is a reverse from previous historical norms and is linked to the nutritional value of the cheapest foods.

“The state that acknowledges its obesity rate, the connection to food insecurity, and the correlation to poverty, will have an advantage in resolving this problem.”

States leading the nation with the least amount of obese citizens are Colorado (20.5%), Massachusetts (22.9%), and Hawaii and New York (23.6%).

Rates-of-Obesity_2The three states with the highest rates of obesity are Louisiana (34.7%), Mississippi (34.6%), and Arkansas (34.5%). What is interesting to note is that two of the three, Mississippi and Arkansas, are also ranked high in food insecurity, which was highlighted by Results America white paper in March.

Although 16 out of 50 states have decreased their prevalence of obesity since 1995, it continues to be a major cause of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. According to the CDC, in 2008, roughly $147 billion was spent on obesity or obesity-related health issues. When taking a look from a different perspective, people dealing with obesity spend almost $1,429 more than people with a healthy BMI.

While Mississippi has decreased its rate of obesity since 1995, obesity rates have almost doubled since 1995 across the country. Since there is noticeable gap between the top and bottom states, ranging from 20.5% to 34.7%, there are clearly cultural and nutritional differences driving this gap

Whether a state is in the top or bottom ranking, obesity remains a key measure of public health in the states, one that points to significant costs and significant opportunities. The state that acknowledges its obesity rate, the connection to food insecurity, and the correlation to poverty, will have an advantage in resolving this problem.