California needs a centralized authority for linking the state’s administrative data. Legislators are focusing on new datasets and data systems, which is a step in the right direction. But what the state truly needs is a new office with a clear mandate to link the state’s core data assets, a clear set of tools for doing so, and governance that ensures data are used to inform program improvement. Think of it as the state’s Census Bureau – or “Statistics California.”
We propose here a roadmap toward that goal: (1) create a new, independent office with the mandate and expertise to link data across siloes, (2) sequence the linkage process by starting with education and expanding outward, and (3) establish streamlined governance that makes data available to improve state policies and programs.