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The politics of data is growing ... and it is a sign of progress
April 2005
Thomas Redman

Many of us have a negative reaction to the word “politics,” particularly when it comes to data quality issues. Mere mention of the term conjures images of a cumbersome bureaucracy, turf battles, back room deals, and special treatment for those “in the inner circle.”

For example, many of us are frustrated by the slow pace of electoral reform. The Y2K United States Presidential Election is perhaps the best-known data quality disaster. Disputed counts in Florida held the world on edge for two and a half weeks while officials examined hanging chads for some sign of voter intent. Eventually, the dispute had to be resolved by the Supreme Court. One might have thought that all would align to ensure such an event did not recur. And while billions were spent, at least one high profile race, for the governor of Washington, is still in dispute.

The slow pace is no less frustrating on other issues, such as financial reform or sharing of data by different intelligence agencies. And what is true for large public data quality problems is no less true within our organizations.