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Government Data Change Agent Internship

Seeking new ideas and fresh perspectives, the government data change agent internship matches students and local governments on projects using data to inform decisions and improve local government services. Supported by a faculty team of local innovators and experienced leaders, enterprising interns embark on an eight-week sprint toward their data visualizations. Interns are taught to employ various strategies, including project charters, user stories, mapping out logic models and defining perfromance measures, designing and testing data collection processses, analyzing data, documenting requirements, researching benchmarks, and creating visual dashboards.

The internship is part of the Government Performance Consortium, an MRSC intiative supported by the State Auditor's Office's Center for Government Innovation. This multi-faceted initiative is designed to engage forward-thinking government leaders in a collaborative exploration of the next horizon of modern government in Washington State.

Get Involved

For more information about the internship program design or participation in a future internship program, please contact faculty lead Larisa Benson (360.489.9160).

2015 Project Summaries

Airway Heights

Defining Performance Metrics

Airway Heights was looking for a way to easily visualize their general performance in seven different departments. Heidi Walter came in and walked the city's leaders through a process of understanding how they could translate data into performance metrics. Her dashboard uses simple icons to signify how well the city is doing in various areas. For more information, see her dashboard project presentation slides.


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Connecting City Goals and City Finances

MPA candidate Charlie Hitchcock was brought on by Anacortes Finance Director Steve Hoagland to help replace their bland finance reports and help the city council better connect the city's finances with their overall goals and vision. Charlie developed a visually stimulating dashboard that simplified the city's spending, making it much easier to see what the city was prioritizing. Charlie explained his project in a presentation to the city council.


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Tracking Public Works and Development Projects

Issaquah was very interested in tracking the efficiency of its internal processes in the public works department and the department of development services. Leveraging the skills of two interns, Alex Farley and Tianbai Li, they were able to develop a dashboard that provides a comprehensive set of data points, including expenditure comparisons from fund to activity levels and average approval and issue times for permits. The live connectivity through SQLl also made it incredibly easy to keep up-to-date. For more information, see their dashboard summary.


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Making Progress on the Strategic Plan

The Kent City Council wanted a way to monitor progress toward the city’s strategic plan goals and objectives on a quarterly basis. Steve Thomson worked with ten city departments to assess their currently available data and to develop proposed performance indicators that clearly connected the available data to the strategic plan. Steve also worked with departments to identify gaps in current data, and where it was important to fill the gaps to support key performance indicators. He then developed a dashboard to display progress towards the city goals and objectives at a glance. For more information, see his dashboard user's guide.


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Hitting Performance Targets Across the City

Phoebe Hwang undertook a deep dive into the Renton budget. She analyzed each program area within the budget and identified how and whether it connected to the overall city goals. Her analysis allows the user to quickly see how the budget is allocated to, and aligned with, the city’s goals. Phoebe then developed a data inventory and analysis of each of the city’s 162 performance measures, by service area.


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Measuring Fitness Program Success

The City of Tukwila recently made changes to its fitness program, which aims to increase the health and well-being of citizens across the city. The city wanted to get a snapshot of what impacts those changes had brought about. Nat Bennett was able to create a dashboard that not only provided an easy visual of the program's performance, but also offered an excellent decision framework for the program's leaders. For more information, see his dashboard logic model, and user's guide.


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Last Modified: February 05, 2019