Economic development professionals and policymakers want to know which of their programs work best. However, a lack of data thwarts many state and local efforts to quantify incentive outcomes, hindering program evaluations.  State administrative data that is already collected from businesses — such as tax and workforce information — is a potential resource that can be used to conduct these evaluations.  

To figure out how to use this resource, the National Governors Association teamed with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness to offer a webinar on “State Data Sharing to Support Economic and Workforce Development Policymaking.” As they explained,

State economic and workforce development program evaluators and policy analysts face many challenges in accessing the administrative data they need to do their jobs. But states are learning to overcome these challenges through the State Data Sharing Initiative (SDS). During this multi-year research and technical assistance project, CREC convened five state teams from Iowa, Minnesota, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Utah to: 

1. Increase transparency about the legal and regulatory barriers to sharing administrative data 
2. Guide potential policy changes that would allow greater access to administrative data without compromising its privacy and confidentiality 


Critical steps according to participating states include: 

  • define how data sharing can support critical agency research questions and improve program delivery
  • educate and request feedback from businesses, participating agency staff, legislative leaders and other stakeholders on an ongoing basis 
  • streamline access (via FAQs, standardized forms) to existing data sets 
  • codify data sharing procedures to outlive administration and staff changes
  • create data inventories and catalogs of existing data sharing MOUs
  • identify technical solutions for data access and/or warehousing
  • add language to program rules and/or legislation that clearly enables data sharing for evaluation purposes
  • build collaborations across state government


Learn more about data sharing from our previous posts, Data sharing for compliance and evaluation and Improving state administrative data sharing for program evaluation

The NGA/CREC webinar is part of a two-year State Data Sharing (SDS) Initiative. 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 created a website to share information and tools about the SDS Initiative,