As the public sector tries to understand how to use data better, a variety of challenges appear. There are the obvious ones, like resistance on the part of decision makers and issues with privacy laws. But as we’ve been interviewing performance auditors in all 50 states, one major issue keeps cropping up. It has nothing to do with giant computer brains, and everything to do with regular-sized human brains. There’s a great shortage of data scientists and analysts in the United States. The lack of sufficiently trained men and women for these jobs affects both the public and private sectors. McKinsey and Company has reported that "the United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of big data." As a result, a city, state or county can spend lots of time and money producing crushing quantities of new information, without it having the kind of real-world impact that’s dependent on a sophisticated workforce to appropriately utilize it.
New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, pleased with $1.3 billion in health-care savings, has given credit to a coalition of municipal unions in New York City. And it’s true that the work between the city and its unions, which is still in developmental stages, may ultimately pay off big time.