I work for a company that provides BI via data warehousing to the Public Sector. One area we have seen BI play has been fraud (specifically areas such as Medicaid) where the potential recovery of dollars provides a meaningful ROI.
I too agree that homeland security could be a fertile ground for BI but we are still constrained with the politics of money. Recent monies from the CDC are leading Publich Health agencies to investigate BI in preparation for combating Bioterrorism. My concern however is that as the clock ticks away, so too will the enthusiasm and political will to pursue these projects.
My question to you and to all the readers then is simple. What direct returns have you (they) had experience with in Public Sector that could persuade a politician to allocate monies?
Direct returns to date in the public sector include time recovery (i.e., fewer cycles spent hunting for information), payment tracking, more effective management of the operations of finance and accounting and fraud detection and recovery - as you say. Going further (say, into ROI) is still a concept looking for more footing.
For a data point, you can see the abstract for the winner of the 2002 TDWI Best Practices award in Government & Non-Profit - School Board of Broward County .
As for persuading a politician (a real politician or an organizational politician), look at their planks and their appeal to see how they are judging their own success, keeping in mind it must measure up to enough votes for re-election. Politicians will want to spend money on the right projects but would also like some recognized deliverables out of the investment to trumpet. The less wordplay and controversy over the interpretation of the results, the better. Tying into currently measured and important metrics assists this. Immediate results get all the more important the closer you get to elections. Elections tend to consume the office as well as create job concerns - factors antipathetic to BI progress.
This was first published in July 2002