By: Sean Robinson, Program Chair, Predictive Analytics World for Government

In anticipation of her upcoming keynote conference presentation, Reforming Government: Where is the Catherine_TempletonPublic Servant to Start? at Predictive Analytics World for Government, Oct 13-16, 2015, we asked Catherine Templeton, Former Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Former South Carolina Secretary of Labor, a few questions about her work in predictive analytics.

Q: How would you characterize your state's current and/or planned use of predictive analytics?  What is one specific way in which predictive analytics actively drives decisions in your agency?

A: In our tax, Medicaid, workforce, and social services agencies, we are able to identify fraudulent returns and those situations that our investigators should address first. In our health and social services agencies, we can move our inspection resources to the health facilities and child safety situations that need the most oversight.  In our environmental agency, we can model potential hazardous contamination. 

Q: Can you describe the challenges you face or have already overcome in establishing a data-driven environment in your agency?

A: The first challenge is the lack of historical data governance creating unreliable data – so think “trash in – trash out.”   Almost as challenging is the lack of sufficient personnel and expertise to implement the solutions because our public servants in IT are usually employed to keep the systems running, not mine insights for business decisions.

Q:  Can you discuss any near term goals you have for improving your state's use of predictive analytics?

A: Our state is currently implementing analytics for prescription drug monitoring, health inspections, environmental permitting, income tax return fraud, and certificates of need for public health.  Additionally, agencies are exploring the use of predictive analytics to stop fraudulent payouts for Medicaid provider and participant programs at the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Health and Human Services, at our lottery commission, and with our Department of Social Services SNAP, TANF, and child safety programs.

Q: Can you describe a successful result from the employment of predictive analytics in your agency, i.e., cost avoidance, funds recovered, improved efficiency, etc.

A: Using analytics in any of these programs creates operational efficiencies that avoid wasted personnel time and budgetary costs.  For fraud identification, obviously, we can stop improper payments before we pay criminals or have to expend the resources to pay and chase the recovery.  The other initiatives are aimed at putting our resources where they bring us the most value in return, whether that is curbing controlled substance abuse or moving a child into the proper support program.

Q: Sneak preview: Please tell us a take-away that you will provide during your talk at Predictive Analytics World for Government.

A: Not stopping fraud or measuring the success of our government programs is not going to be politically or fiscally tolerated by the citizens we serve.  It is difficult to go through the implementation of predictive analytics, but, having experienced failure and success, I can identify our common hurdles and share the solutions we employed to clear them.


Don't miss Catherine’s keynote conference presentation, Reforming Government: Where is the Public Servant to Start? on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 from 8:45 to 9:30 am at Predictive Analytics World for Government. Click here to register to attend.

By: Sean Robinson, Program Chair, Predictive Analytics World for Government