The Legal or Statutory Authority
12. Statutory language authorizes or is broadly interpreted to authorize data access
leaders. This, in and of itself, comes as no surprise. However, the sources of this leadership are diverse.
In some cases, this leadership was political in nature. For example, the University of Missouri at Columbia Department of Economics began its long collaboration with the Missouri Department of Social Services at the request of Governor Mel Carnahan. In January 1997, the university was asked to begin an analysis of the workforce development system for the Governor’s Training and Employment Council. Because of the high-profile support for this project, the agencies providing data were forthcoming so as not to appear to be hindering the effort. A governor’s directive can be powerful.
Another example of political leadership can be found in the moving force behind the Texas State Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (SOICC). The SOICC was mandated by the U.S. Congress via the federal Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) and the Carl D.Perkins Vocational Education Act of 1976. The Texas SOICC receives no state general revenue funding and is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor through the national network organization National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee.
Data linking is facilitated when those at the top make it clear that they want to know about the impacts governmental programs are having on clients. Governors can provide this kind of leadership. More commonly, and perhaps most effectively, this leadership can be found among program administrators, bureau chiefs, and agency heads. For example, California found valuable leadership in the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Research Branch. Staff in the Research Branch made use of many years of experience in service to the state to forge data-sharing coalitions between CDSS and the California Employment Development Department. In Illinois, the decisions to link data were made by Department of Human Services administrators who were supporting the Welfare Leavers Study.