Moving Forward Using Data-Driven PoliciesJanuary 2021
After spending 27 years as a government executive in the U.S. Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Education, MITRE's Beverly Ortega Babers is no stranger to a government in transition. Her time working within the Treasury Department during the previous presidential election cycle gave her valuable insight into how MITRE can continue to grow our organization and support our government sponsors in 2021.
As the transition director for the Treasury Department in 2016–2017, it was my job to ensure that we did all that was within our power to facilitate a smooth handoff of operations from the outgoing administration to the new one.
Providing accurate and timely information needed to understand the Department’s direction, challenges, and organizational dynamics is key.
What that entailed was preparing thorough, unbiased information and data about Treasury goals, activities, projects, programs, and budgets for the Agency Review Team and incoming officials.
We helped answer questions such as: What policies were working and what policies weren't? What were the risk factors for the department and the various agencies within it? What were the success stories and the failures?
Informed Policies Start with Solid Data
I came to MITRE in 2019 to help Vice President Jim Cook position and prepare MITRE for the 2020 election. Regardless of a particular election's outcome, there is change and turnover between presidential terms, so we knew the election would require a transition of some sort. I gather and share information about the change-over that is occurring, including the next administration's policies, to inform the plans of MITRE colleagues as they navigate this new environment.
Coincidentally, Jim was also building a team to launch the Center for Data-Driven Policy in advance of the 2020 election. I had worked with MITRE experts as a government executive, so I knew it was a place I wanted to be. I'm now a principal strategist in the center. I'm working on a broader set of policy issues and helping MITRE engage more with other nonprofit policy influencers, while also continuing to focus on the presidential transition.
Ensuring that policymakers have access to unbiased, evidence-based information and data is one of our hallmarks. It's as critical to our engagements with Congress as it is to the administration.
The information we share comes from research and experience, often including complex data analytics, and it's always presented with an objective eye. We have something to offer to the conversation—it's what we bring to the table to help guide the conversation and inform better decision-making. And though we share that information through papers that we publish or events that we host, our goal is to facilitate engagement with influencer organizations and policymakers.
Delivering Cross-Agency Solutions
MITRE operates several FFRDCs for the government. We have expertise in many technical areas and partner with many public and private organizations. When we find an effective solution that works across multiple agencies and in different environments, we're committed to sharing it.
We have depth within specific agencies but also a broad government perspective. From a policy point of view, that's invaluable. MITRE can help our sponsors adapt proven strategies and technologies to new challenges. It's this type of collaboration that drives the betterment of our country and our world.
My time in government gave me a thorough understanding about how hard agencies work to implement policy. Unfortunately, sometimes there are barriers built into the policy that can hamstring an agency's ability to make it as effective as it could be. We provide guidance and data that can help policymakers avoid these barriers.
I worked with several MITRE teams during my time at Treasury and saw firsthand the value MITRE brings to the government. With the Center for Data-Driven Policy, we are now also adding significant value to the policymaking arena. Our sponsors know that we'll bring objective, data-driven solutions that will enable them to fulfill their missions.
I'm here to help make that happen.
—as told to Kay M. Upham
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