Register now for Data Analysis and Decision Making for Government certificate program’s fall cohort

Understanding how to share data with decision-makers is a critical skill for those in public service.

Steve Ledbetter learned just how much during his time in the Data Analysis and Decision Making for Government certificate program offered by the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The program helps participants learn to weave data storytelling into compelling presentations that support decision making.

Ledbetter’s newfound skills helped gain millions in funding for a much-needed project in Spalding County. As county manager, Ledbetter focused his capstone on the county’s economic potential, noting that constructing sewer infrastructure in an underdeveloped area could help ease taxpayers’ burden by attracting more businesses. Ledbetter presented his findings to the Spalding County Board of Commissioners, which voted to transfer $3 million to the county’s water and sewer authority to fund the project.

“Without data, you can’t make good quality, educated decisions. I’ve taken the information that I’ve gleaned back to Spalding County to really help our team understand how important this line of study is,” Ledbetter said. “Being able to see how our past performance will impact our future decisions is huge. I’ve encouraged our department heads to be part of the next class.”

Ledbetter was one of 25 participants from state and local governments who graduated recently from the first offering of the Data Analysis and Decision Making for Government program. Certificate holders completed 60 classroom hours in five monthly two-day sessions at the UGA Gwinnett campus, creating capstone presentations ready to share with their organizations.

Participants learn valuable skills through the program regardless of their data experience, from data literacy to public speaking. Seasoned data professionals learn how to package and present data insights to executives, and those with less experience enhance their analytical capabilities.

“This program teaches government professionals the skills they need to turn data into insights, which directly affects the taxpayers and Georgia citizens by helping governments operate more efficiently,” said Anna Wrigley Miller, the UGA Institute of Government faculty member who leads the program.

Georgia Department of Agriculture IT Manager Maris Wynn said the program improved her work on the agency’s licensing procedures.

“I feel like I’ve learned a million different ways to polish and refine my presentations,” Wynn said. “Some of the things we’ve gone over are concrete, like Excel and Power BI techniques. Some of them are more general about public speaking and data theory. Everything we’ve done has gone into the mix to help us make a bigger impact with our data.”

Jeff Gallant, program director for the University System of Georgia’s Affordable Learning Georgia program, said the program complemented the work his agency has already done with the institute’s help.

“In taking this course, I learned more about creating data dashboards that will empower stakeholders to view our data and find answers they need more easily,” Gallant said. “We can answer questions about our program much more quickly because of our work with the UGA Institute of Government on reformatting our data alongside the data visualization skills I learned.”

The certificate program is one way the UGA Institute of Government’s Data Innovation Hub aims to increase the data capacity of state and local governments by providing in-depth, comprehensive data analysis and visualization training at all levels of government. Through the hub, the institute offers webinars, hosts the annual Developing Data Analytics Capabilities Conference, and plans to develop more training programs.

“Government dollars are taxpayer dollars, so they must be spent wisely and effectively,” Miller said. “We want to help governments harness the power of their existing information to make more targeted decisions in a data-informed way. That’s why we’re here.”

The second cohort for the Data Analysis and Decision Making for Governments certificate program will begin Sept. 11. Registration is open online.