The Return On Investment For Big Data Is Far Lower Than Promised

Brittany Ballenstedt | Nextgov | November 12, 2013

With new computers and software enabling the ability to store and analyze data faster and at a lower cost than ever before, it’s all too easy for federal leaders to become overwhelmed, so much so that many are failing to tie that data to specific mission-focused goals.

But as agencies grapple with harnessing the potential of big data in the future, they would be wise to look to the past -- to an era before sophisticated data-collection technologies existed and federal analytics programs had no choice but to use data to provide and demonstrate value, according to a new report by the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

The report, “From Data to Decisions III,” mines programs like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s PulseNet, a database that was developed in 1996 to connect foodborne illness cases to detect outbreaks, and a 2003 biometrics program at the Defense Department, to offer valuable lessons for agencies in how to apply data-based analysis to improve mission delivery and performance.