OIG Advisory Concerning the City of Chicago’s Data Quality

The City of Chicago’s operations increasingly rely on collecting and utilizing high-quality data. Through our audit and investigation work, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has observed many issues impacting data objectivity, utility, and integrity. The inconsistent quality of the City’s data hinders it from effectively allocating resources, measuring performance, and achieving objectives. To support the chief data officer’s (CDO) role in improving decision-making and management through data analysis, we summarize our observations in this advisory.

Quality data enables a government to manage resources efficiently, measure performance accurately, and achieve its objectives. We encourage the CDO to work with departments to develop a proactive culture of data quality management. For example, a uniform data quality framework could encourage departments to consider what their data needs will be and whether the quality of their current data is sufficient. Such a framework could also guide departmental trainings, policies, and processes for monitoring and improving data quality. As part of these efforts, the CDO could help identify interdepartmental data needs and facilitate requests from one department to another.

We further encourage the CDO to engage with departments and provide direction regarding the development of their data quality plans. Finally, we encourage the CDO to work with departments to provide public information on the quality of their data and its limitations to users. For its part, OIG’s Audit and Program Review section has developed a new process to communicate data quality issues encountered during our work to the CDO. We will note this communication in the relevant public reports. The goal of the process is to ensure that the departments and the CDO are aware of existing data quality issues and to support collaborative efforts toward corrective actions.