Can better data visualization bolster government communications with the public, the press, and policymakers? The answer is “Yes,” but to ensure the results, government agencies need to improve both the way they use graphical displays in their written presentations and how their analysts present their work verbally to an audience. If communications of data, findings, and analysis improve, perhaps everyone’s understanding of the nation’s public policy challenges will improve as well, and the result will be not just better government but better governance.
There is no shortage of graphics from government agencies that fail on even basic good Data Visualization practices. As an example, take this recent graphic from the General Accountability Office (GAO):
At first blush — and at second and third — it is very hard to tell what’s going on. The pie chart on the left side (the perennial thorn in the side of data visualization) is... keep reading