Wisconsin Idea legislative reports

Beginning in September 2020, I took a lead role in collecting data for the Wisconsin Idea database and managed the process of producing district reports for state legislators. Here’s my latest documentation of the process, written mostly for myself but with a future successor in mind. I’ve also made a short list of medium-term suggestions that could improve efficiency (and potentially data quality university-wide).

In 2020-21 and 2021-22, I managed the project, reaching out to partners, assessing and correcting data, organizing information and working with internal partners to create 132 individual reports (the design and content of which were determined before I started at UW–Madison).

In my second year managing the data collection and report generation process for the Wisconsin Idea website and district reports, I made a number of key improvements. I created a more effective schedule and stuck to it. This allowed me to spend more time on the front end cleaning up data.

Results? Web output became more consistent and less duplicative (see, for example, companies in Milwaukee County with employees who received professional and executive training from UW–Madison), and district report generation became less time-consuming, which allowed me to confidently delegate some of it to my teammates. I also worked with the UMark web team to update “permanent” content on the Wisconsin Idea website (which is managed within their codebase, not in an accessible CMS).

Longer-term goal: Help build awareness of the Wisconsin Idea on and off campus.

The current online presence of the Wisconsin Idea includes one page on the main UW–Madison website, the Wisconsin Idea database website, the monthly Wisconsin Ideas newsletter and our biennial budget-related “impact” campaigns.

Given the profound significance of the Wisconsin Idea to our university, our materials on it are disconnected from each other, sometimes vague, and (variously) difficult to navigate and maintain. I hope to:

  • Collaborate in refining the content of the Wisconsin Ideas newsletter
  • Devise and implement strategies to build the Wisconsin Ideas newsletter email list
  • In the long run, assist in rethinking Wisconsin Idea web content to better serve its audiences, giving it a clearer narrative focus and making it both more appealing and easier to maintain