Collecting data and ensuring quality are critically important in a State’s efforts to establish a robust continuous quality improvement (CQI) system of data compilation, analysis, and dissemination. The collection of quantitative and qualitative data from varying sources is the foundation of a CQI system; a robust connection between administrative data and other sources of information is key to a plausible vision of change. If solid process and outcome data are used to identify strengths and concerns and establish strategies for improvement, and if progress and trends are tracked by repeated measuring, the results can provide management with a simple, visually compelling thermometer of the organization’s performance and health at every level and can help the agency see where it wants to go in the future.
All agencies want data that are timely, complete, understandable, and relate to the task at hand. Data must be accurate and relevant before data analysis can yield beneficial results; for this to occur, any issues that exist with caseworkers and data entry must be identified and resolved. Furthermore, there must be an efficient process in place for the resolution of data quality issues.
An agency’s interrelated activities and processes are anchored by the quality of its information systems and their ability to produce accurate, reliable, interpretable data that are consistent in definition and usage across the State and nationally.