Utah Bill Bolsters Workforce Data

Jenna Leventoff
April 3, 2017

New legislation, UT SB 194, replaces Utah’s longitudinal data system, the Utah Data Alliance (UDA) with the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC). In doing so, this bill changes the system’s governance model, builds the state’s research capacity, institutionalizes inter-agency data sharing, and promotes data use.

SB 194 creates the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC) as a program within the Department of Workforce Services. Although Utah has long been a model for data governance, this bill shifts governance to a method that the Utah legislature believes will better suit its goals of unified decision making. The UDA was governed by a cross-agency council composed of individuals representing each agency contributing data. Under SB 194, however, UDRC will be governed by a director who can create a comprehensive vision and research agenda. The UDRC will still maintain a cross-agency advisory board, composed of representatives from K-12, postsecondary, career and technical education, workforce services, and health agencies.

In addition to implementing a new governance model, the bill increases the state’s research capacity by shifting research from individual agencies to the UDRC, and by allowing the UDRC to hire necessary staff. Previously, research was conducted by individual agencies, who had limited capacity to conduct research of interest to external stakeholders such as the legislature or the public.

Furthermore, SB 194 ensures the sustainability of the UDRC by mandating data submission from the State Board of Education, the State Board of Regents, the Utah College of Applied Technology, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Department of Health. Previously, these agencies contributed data voluntarily, and could pull out of the alliance for any reason.

Finally, this bill encourages greater data use by requiring the UDRC to create an “online data visualization portal” that will provide the public and others with access to linked, aggregated, and de-identified data. Users can query data, and view that data in a customizable way.

This law will go into effect on July 1, 2017. WDQC is pleased to see states institutionalizing strong data practices, and creating data governance policies that are best suited to their states. You can read more about Utah on its state page