All posts by Greg Hirschfeld

CREC Publishes State Data Sharing Report

State governments are demanding more rigorous analysis and evaluation of government funded economic and workforce development programs.  Administrative records, which are data regularly collected through the operation or administration of state or local programs, contain important information on the characteristics and behaviors of companies and workers.  These records, such as corporate tax and unemployment insurance filings, hold great promise to improve program outcomes.

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) report, Improving State Administrative Data Sharing: A Strategy to Promote Evidence-Based Economic and Workforce Development Policymaking, highlights the legal and regulatory environment, best practices, and reform efforts that encourage safe and secure data sharing in ways that protect confidentiality while improving program evaluation.

As part of this project, CREC collected information about data-sharing issues from 65 national and state experts, supplementing those insights with the development of a database of the actual laws and regulations governing data-sharing in more than 40 states.

The report summarizes the findings from our research and offers a new framework for understanding individual state policies.  States can use administrative records to analyze and evaluate programs to their benefit in a number of ways.  For instance, data sharing helps improve the quality of program evaluation efforts, reduces the costs associated with conducting rigorous evaluations, ensures that agencies can more readily identify potential program related fraud, and provides a third-party source for benchmarking data provided directly to the program agency by client firms or individuals.

Despite these benefits, significant barriers limit data-sharing.  These are also discussed, including state data governance policy, data sharing process management, information technology requirements and limitations, and user understanding and accessibility.

The CREC report recommends that state efforts to encourage data-sharing focus on four areas:

  • Educating state leaders on the value of administrative data and how it can support more evidence based policymaking while reducing government costs to evaluate programs;
  • Encouraging agency leaders and staff to understand that sharing data for appropriate purposes and maintaining the highest standards of data confidentiality are not mutually exclusive;
  • Providing greater visibility to and more resources for agency efforts to streamline data sharing policies and processes; and
  • Establishing more structured and transparent processes for reviewing data sharing requests.

The report is part of a two-year State Data Sharing (SDS) Initiative. While focused on economic and workforce development, the lessons can inform actions in broader policy areas, like education, health, and criminal justice policy. SDS seeks to improve public policy program outcomes by enabling evidence-based policymaking through greater sharing of state administrative records in support of rigorous policy analysis and program evaluation. CREC has also created a website to share information and tools about the SDS Initiative, www.statedatasharing.org.

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness is a national nonprofit organization focused on encouraging evidence-based economic and workforce development policy.  The SDS Initiative helps achieve that mission by improving the quality of data to support better decision making.

Support the 2020 Census

We need your help.  We need you or your organization to help educate your Congressional leaders on the importance of funding the 2020 Census as well as related “periodic programs” such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Economic Census.

The U.S. Congress is back in session this week (November 28), and they are taking up the federal budget.  The federal government is currently funded through December 9 through a continuing resolution (CR).  Congress is expected to pass another extension through March rather than completing action through the end of the fiscal year.  Census needs attention because we are at a critical planning stage for the 2020 Census. Not only is it important to count our citizens accurately, but adequate 2020 Census funding also has potentially critical impacts on other data programs that are funded from the same program account, including the ACS and Economic Census.

First, planning for the 2020 decennial census is in a precarious funding position.  As the Census Bureau ramps up planning for 2020, the agency typically receives budget supplements to accomplish important preparatory tasks. While these tasks require funding, the CR process provides resource increases only if Congress approves a “spending anomaly” for Census, authorizing more funds.  Congress did not do this in the first CR passed in September.

In the coming fiscal year, Congress is asking the Census Bureau to complete tasks that it would not typically have to undertake outside the 2020 Census planning cycle.  For instance, the Bureau must test and submit topics for both the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey and begin testing alternative data collection methods designed to drive down overall costs for the 10-year cycle. Census is also testing new information technology systems and completing a dry run in 2018. Census is also seeking other ways to hold costs down, including using Internet responses – an option it could not use in 2010 due to lack of funding that ironically ultimately increased the cost of the Census.  The irony is that insufficient funds now could lead to cost overruns later in the 2020 planning cycle.

The Census is funded from a program account that includes the American Community Survey and the Economic Census.  Overruns in the 2020 census implementation could threaten these two critically important programs.  ACS is the only source of granular information about demographics available annually by community that not only Congressional leaders use to understand their districts but that economic and workforce developers use to recruit companies and serve jobseekers.  The Economic Census is the primary data source about business buying and selling activity that we use for econometric models explaining multiplier impacts and a key source for understanding clusters and supply chains.

We are asking you to reach out in 3 ways in the next two weeks:

  1. Contact your Congressional office to let them know how important this issue is to you or your organization’s efforts.  It would be helpful if you could provide 1 or 2 examples of how these data help your organization create jobs and put people to work more efficiently.
  2. Share this call to action with your state or local network; ask your colleagues to reach out as well.
  3. Feel free to blind copy us on any appeals you make on Census’ behalf.

Support for the 2020 Census is vital, not only to ensuring we have an accurate and complete count of Americans but also to ensure that programs such as the American Community Survey and the Economic Census are protected.

Thank you in advance for your help!  We will keep you up-dated on what Congress ultimately decides to do.

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Funding Highlights From Proposed FY2016 State Budgets

C2ER staffers are busy digging through the newest proposed state budgets for FY2016. As we update the State Economic Development Program Expenditures Database, a number of programs have stood out. The proposed budgets include new programs as well as some major funding increases in economic development financing, infrastructure and construction, research and development, and employment training. Continue reading

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New State Business Incentives Analysis Tools

C2ER is pleased to announce two new analysis tools for the State Business Incentives Database. Researchers using the new State by State and Totals by State analysis tools will now find it much easier to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons between incentives projects. Continue reading

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Puerto Rico Joins the Cost of Living Index

The upcoming collection period marks Puerto Rico’s third consecutive quarter of participation in C2ER’s Cost of Living Index. Researchers in San Juan first implemented COLI methodology in the second quarter of 2014 and recently began utilizing the Cost of Living Index Calculator. The Calculator is an easy-to-use tool which allows researchers, businesses, governments, and individuals to compare cities across a number of economic factors. Continue reading

GASB State Tax Incentive Rule

GASB Tax Incentive Picture Beginning in 2017, those interested in incentives and tax abatement expenditures spending will likely have access to significantly more data than is currently available. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), the independent organization which “establishes financial accounting and reporting standards for state and local governments,” is asking for public comments on a proposed change to current standards for property and tax abatement agreements. Continue reading

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State Business Incentives Database Debuts New User Site

The Council for Community and Economic Research has launched the newest iteration of the State Business Incentives Database website. New features make finding up-to-date information on state incentive programs even easier for economic developers, business development finance professionals, economic researchers, and other users. Continue reading

http://www.colocationamerica.com/blog/iowa-next-facebook-data-center-hub.htm

Incentives in the News: The Brookings Institute and Job Incentives

A recently released report from the Brookings Institute highlights the most promising ways they believe cities, states, and regions can move forward in attracting businesses and creating jobs in a responsible and fair way. The study also confirms analysis done by C2ER of the State Business Incentives Database. Continue reading

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C2ER Updates State Business Incentives Database

C2ER has just finished its latest update of the State Business Incentives Database. This makes the State Business Incentives Database even more valuable to users who need the most up-to-date information on state programs.

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Before and After

Source: https://www.ohiohistory.org/state-historic-preservation-office/tax-incentives-for-historic-preservation

Examining Historic Tax Credits

An old shoe factory in St. Paul is transformed into an LEED-certified affordable housing structure. Across the river in Minneapolis a disused library building becomes a neighborhood career and technology center. These are just two of the projects benefiting from the Minnesota Historic Structure Rehabilitation State Tax Credit. Continue reading