Data Science Training for the Government Workforce

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Data Society      
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  August 2022          
machine learning         Blog
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With today’s broad adoption of emerging technologies comes an elevated demand for workforce development in data science, AI, and ML. Legislative measures, such as the AI Workforce Training Act and the Artificial Intelligence for the Military (AIM) Act reflect the government’s prioritization of upskilling employees across agencies to secure the US position as a leader in the development and deployment of digital innovations.

Empowering Government Workers to Drive Data Transformation

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Adopting best practices for data use, protection, and execution requires equipping the government workforce to use digital tools and techniques to meet ever-expanding technological demands. According to a 2022 survey of members of the The Federal Chief Data Officer Council, established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as part of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, CDOs of small, medium, and large agencies identified limited staff skills or workforce hiring challenges as one of the top three obstacles to using data to support agencies’ missions. In addition, the respondents from small agencies indicated that additional training ranked highest among needs to make their CDO roles or data teams successful. 

Improving Operational Efficiency and Outcomes with Data Science Tools

AI’s evolving contribution to the public sector shapes the workflow and outcomes of agencies ranging from the Department of Defence to the Department of Energy. For example, according to the Federal Artificial Intelligence Landscape Summary, 2022, budget priorities outlined by the White House for FY2022 include AI/ML initiatives such as innovations in biomedicine and biotechnology, autonomous and remotely piloted vehicles, and advanced communications networks. In addition, according to predictions published by FedTech for 2022, government agencies will increasingly adopt predictive analytics to improve efficiency, forecast threats, and identify areas of risk. 

To optimize this rapid proliferation of data science technologies across roles and departments, agencies must progress toward data maturity, establishing solid data strategies, sound data governance, and environments of organization-wide data literacy. This priority is reflected in the Defense Information Systems Agency Strategic Plan FY22-24, which includes promoting a data-centric workforce among its goals related to leveraging data.

Supporting a Beleaguered Workforce

Beyond improving decision-making, national security, and government efficiency, emerging technologies can also be powerful tools to ease the workforce strains and reduce staffing turnover, evident in recent years among government employees. According to a 2022 survey, 65% of government employees reported that they felt burnt out at work, compared to 44% of private sector workers, with 49% of respondents indicating that this burnout would likely prompt them to leave their jobs in the next year. Digitization of many routine, arduous tasks presents a promising opportunity to address this issue while improving operational efficiency throughout government administrative functions. With the adoption of AI- and ML-based solutions, government agencies can minimize repetitive tasks that impede the workflow of their employees and frustrate their efforts to focus on the work that motivates them.

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Data Society Helps Agencies Unlock the Value of Government Data

Data Society has worked with several federal agencies to provide training and solutions that improve decision-making and streamline operations in the government workforce:

  • Data Society worked with the US Department of State Foreign Service Institute’s School of Applied Information Technology (SAIT) to customize three courses that provided foundational training in R, cultivated data visualization and storytelling skills. It gave  managers the tools to leverage data-driven insights for mission-critical decisions. The program ultimately produced a dashboard using real-world data to evaluate the drivers and impact of COVID-19’s spread throughout communities.
  • The US Air Force's (USAF) AFWERX engaged Data Society to provide a training program for its Project NEXUS, an initiative exploring ways to upskill airmen in digital technologies to leverage advanced innovations and increase talent retention and recruitment. Data Society developed and delivered three four-month training programs, working closely with USAF to align the curriculum with the organization’s specific goals, that empowered airmen to apply data science tools alongside their institutional knowledge to create innovative solutions. This program resulted in the upskilling of airmen across ranks, leading to decreased external hiring and outsourcing and saving the USAF an estimated $5.2 million in human capital.
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  • The Air Force Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROW) required a dynamic platform that would give cybersecurity professionals current information about cyber threats and aid them in identifying qualified vendors to help address them. Data Society developed APOLLO, a tailored solution using NLP and AI to identify threats accurately and quickly and provide actionable recommendations for remediation.

Data Society’s success in serving these government clients is driven by a commitment to understanding the obstacles and requirements they face. Through thoughtful, bespoke instructional design and delivery, Data Society guides students through customized, carefully curated learning pathways that meet the specific needs of students and organizations. Data Society’s solutions are a product of our team’s technical expertise and close collaboration with government agencies to understand their responsibilities, goals, compliance considerations, and challenges.    

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Data Society provides customized, industry-tailored data science training solutions—partnering with organizations to educate, equip, and empower their workforce with the skills to achieve their goals and expand their impact.

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