5 in 5: Dave Gottesman, Montgomery County’s CountyStat Manager
Results for America Fellowship Alumni give five answers in five minutes. This month, we caught up with Dave Gottesman, CountyStat Manager for Montgomery County, MD.
- Summarize what you do and how you do it.
I have the very fortunate role of leading a team of extremely talented analysts — we are mainly responsible for two things: (1) the development, reporting, monitoring, and improvement of performance metrics for all County departments, and (2) helping the County Government to leverage the data the organization is sitting on top of through analytics, dashboarding, mapping, and other tactics for more informed discussion and decision-making. We are successful because we are curious, helpful, outcome-focused, respectful of our colleagues’ subject matter expertise, and mindful of which tools are best suited to different audiences and stakeholders.
- Share something exciting that you’re working on.
I am always balancing a variety of projects at any given time. One of the current tasks is working with one of my analysts to create a map or series of maps that bring together a large amount of public and administrative geospatial data to inform and guide a specific executive decision. What is exciting is that we know that if we build the tool the right way, it can and will be re-used hundreds or thousands of times over for purposes we haven’t even considered yet because there is a tremendous amount of value in having a “common operating picture” to work from. Making it available to our entire organization and the public will also save people countless hours of time because there will already be a useful tool to gather around and work off of collectively when tackling issues ranging from equity to mobility to food insecurity, just to name a few.
- Tell us one thing you learned from someone else during your RFA Fellowship.
This exercise gave me a chance to go back and look at my notes from our RFA Local Government Fellowship convenings, and while doing so I was struck by the amazing breadth of topics we covered and reminded of the brilliance and passion for public service embodied in the Fellows. One particularly memorable experience was observing King County’s (new at the time) approach to performance management using a technique they called “rounding” — as in doctors making their rounds. Holding performance meetings while standing around whiteboards and moving between the various data visualizations that were located on the walls of the common areas of the various departments (for all to see, all the time) was a great lesson in how to do things differently and in an engaging, energized way.
- If you could wave a magic wand and have any data or evidence, what would it be?
I’d ask for two things, but they’re kind of related. It would be so valuable if there were a unique identifier of some sort that could help bring together any and all pieces of disparate data from the hundreds of systems in use across the County. The ability to easily conjoin or overlay data related to zoning, demographics and socioeconomics, use of County services such as 311, 911, recreation centers and libraries, etc. would be so eye-opening and enable us to potentially see relationships we could not before, and ask more intelligent questions. Similarly, being able to easily see and analyze this kind of data over time would be incredible in that we could identify issues downstream that we must react to, and then work to do more upstream to proactively prevent them in the first place.
- What’s the [pick-your-adjective] job you’ve ever had?
The most eye-opening job I’ve ever had was my first job out of college. In my twenties, I worked for a student travel company (more commonly known as “teen tours”) where I planned, sold, and directed summer programs that took me all over the United States and Canada leading groups of counselors and 40–50 teenagers on a bus, camping in National Parks and recreation areas, and visiting cities as well. The job taught me lessons on how to lead others, be resourceful, take care of people, and also gave me the great privilege of visiting the most beautiful places in North America and sharing them with others, each successive year seeing the familiar through new eyes.
Interested in learning more about Montgomery County’s work? Read the September 26, 2018 case study on Montgomery County’s efforts to connect frequent 911 callers to comprehensive support.
Dave Gottesman participated in Results for America’s Local Government Fellowship.