Administrative data–or the official information gathered from routine government tasks and services–can be an incredibly powerful tool for program administrators, policymakers, and advocates.

From documenting program outcomes to assessing policy effects, using data is crucial in the efforts to help children and their families thrive. Administrative data also holds vast potential for improving service in real time: combining data sets from multiple sources into an integrated data system (IDS) has made it possible to link and use this data for better and more comprehensive provision of services.

To support understanding of how administrative data can be used to improve social services, VIVA Social Impact Partners conducted research on behalf of the Heising-Simons Foundation. The research included a scan of the current landscape to identify examples of innovative administrative data use to improve social services by cities, state, and countries. VIVA additionally conducted a landscape scan of how philanthropic organizations have invested in administrative data, and conducted interviews with five foundations to understand their approaches to and learnings from data-focused investments.