Optimal’s CEO Joins the Council of Graduate Schools Employer Roundtable

Optimal’s Mark Turner recently joined the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Employer Roundtable. The CGS Employer Roundtable is a small group of senior leaders representing employers of graduate degree holders in various fields and organizations serving higher education. CGS serves to advance graduate education and research in the U.S. and globally. Dr. Turner brings the perspective of small businesses that employ graduate degree holders to the roundtable that is mostly composed of global businesses and organizations — Amazon, Corning, IBM, and TIAA. For more information, see CGS Employer Roundtable.

Optimal’s COO Offers Real World Career Optimizing Tips to UMD iSchool Graduates

Optimal’s executive, Tracye Turner, recently delivered career lessons learned and best practices remarks to new graduates at the 2022 spring commencement at the University of Maryland’s School of Information Studies. The fast-growing school has high job offer rates and in-demand graduates. She frequently collaborates with the iSchool, serves on the iLead Advisory Council, and was the Inaugural Chair. She shared her top 10 career lessons learned in cyclical job markets. For more information, see Spring 2022 Commencement Ceremony | University of Maryland (umd.edu)

Optimal Researchers to Present on Automating Mask Mandate Google Searches

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Optimal’s education research team will be presenting at the International Population Data Linkage Network (IPDLN) conference on September 7-9, 2022. The team will present the methodological approach developed to collect mask mandate information by automating Google searches and using NLP to classify the results by developing a customized robotic process automation program. This year’s theme for the conference includes using AI and collecting data to validate and improve official statistics.

For more information on the conference, visit https://ipdln.org/2022-conference.

Equity Indicators Project: The Nation’s “Equity Report Card”

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Authors: Ebony Walton, Statistician, NCES; Daniel Loew, Research Associate, Optimal Solutions Group; Imer Arnautovic, Research Associate, Optimal Solutions Group; and Enis Dogan, Chief Psychometrician, NCES

As is well known in education research, performance differences in achievement persist between groups of students in the U.S. and addressing them by ensuring equal access to high-quality education for all is a part of the U.S. Department of Education’s mission. This mission requires defining and measuring educational equity. The National Center for Education Statistics’ Equity Indicators Project aims to provide a solid data resource for researchers, policymakers, and the general public regarding educational equity.  A set of dozens of equity measures, which were informed by literature review, provide the framework for this data resource. Optimal Solutions Group has conducted a systematic review of survey instruments and codebooks for seven current NCES data sources as a pilot effort, resulting in a repository of over 3,000 data items relevant to the set of equity measures. Further data sources will be mined to provide a sufficient set of data items from which to measure educational equity. The authors will classify the set of equity measures into a logic model, designated with the logic model labels of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes. This logic model will be used to develop a theoretical model to measure and define educational equity, which will support a deeper understanding of how to evaluate it in a variety of settings. In so doing, this work will further the U.S. Department of Education’s central mission to provide equal access to a high level of quality education for all students in the United States.  

To learn more about the 2022 NCES STATS-DC Data Conference, visit https://ies.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/?id=15617&cid=2

Opportunity to Participate in a Telehealth Study

On behalf of the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), an independent regulatory agency that works to inform health care decision-making and increase access to affordable care, NORC and Optimal Solutions Group are recruiting participants, ages 18 and up, for a study on telehealth.

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Helping Organizations Achieve Impact: Optimal Join Sponsors for UMD Social Sciences Workshop

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In October 2021, the University of Maryland, College Park will host a workshop for individuals in academia, industry, and government to discuss how academic-corporate partnerships can advance social, behavioral, and organizational science research to impact society and science.

The two-part event will kick-off with virtual session comprised of subject matter experts and partners. One goal of the workshop is to bring awareness to the opportunities that exist to collaborate within multiple disciplines of science, including behavioral and economic sciences. The workshop will also highlight social science and the opportunities that partners, and industries have to make an impact within the discipline. Most importantly, this will allow attendees and panelists the opportunity to learn and network with the community, industry representatives and researchers in social science.

Optimal Solutions Group (Optimal) will support the workshop as a sponsor for this event. Alongside Optimal joins the partners National Science Foundation, MITRE and the Consortium of Social Science Associations. Optimal’s collaboration and sponsorship with the University of Maryland, College Park schools is a relationship that has spanned almost a decade. From classroom talks to the HCIL symposium and judging competitions, Optimal and its staff have always enjoyed collaborating with the university to discuss new ideas and educational opportunities.

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Optimal Solutions Group, LLC

Founded in 2000, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, is a nonpartisan public policy research and technical assistance firm that stands out for its quantitative expertise and innovative approaches to provide rigorous, data-driven research and technical assistance to government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic foundations. Located at the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in College Park, Optimal is a leader in driving real-time public policy research. Optimal has 60+ employees, including multidisciplinary researchers with backgrounds in economics, education, health, housing, sociology, statistics, information management and entrepreneurship. Optimal has four research centers—Health, Education, Housing and Workforce Development, and Social Policy—as well as an International Practice, Analytics Group, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.

Optimal Will Present Findings on the Effects of Federal Government Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses at Fall Research Conference

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Four representatives from Optimal Solutions Group LLC (Optimal) will present research papers on the effects of federal contracting opportunities for small businesses at the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management’s (APPAM) 43rd Annual Fall Research Conference in Austin, Texas, this November.

As part of the panel “The Effects of Government Procurement Policies and Practices in Advancing Small Business Contracting Opportunities,” Optimal’s President Dr. Mark Turner and Research Associate Andrey Vinokurov will present “The Effects of Set-Aside Procurement on the Availability of Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Contracting.” The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) federal contracting program is one of several programs that Congress has approved to provide greater opportunities for small businesses to win federal contracts. Recent research by Optimal reveals that WOSBs availability (proportion of WOSBs that are ready, willing, and able compared to all ready, willing, and able firms in each industry) is low when compared to the relative size of women in the population. This study measures the responsiveness of relative and absolute availability of WOSBs that are ready, willing, and able to perform federal contracting in response to federal agencies’ use of set-asides and sole-source contracts.

As part of the same panel, Data Scientist Sadaf Asrar and Business Intelligence Analyst Yash Kothari will present “Effects of the 8(a) Program in Increasing the Utilization of Small Disadvantaged Businesses in Federal Government Contracting.” The federal government established the 8(a) program to improve the capacity and supplier base of small businesses owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged members of society. To help provide a level playing field, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) program. The objective of this paper is to understand the market for goods and services demanded by federal agencies and those supplied by 8(a) businesses as well as to examine the performance of 8(a) businesses in obtaining federal contracts as they progress from the initial development stage to the transitional stage of the program and assess how they fare once they graduate. 

The APPAM Fall Research Conference is a multi-disciplinary research conference attracting the highest quality research on a wide variety of important current and emerging policy and management issues.

Visit APPAM conference and panel for more information.

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Optimal Solutions Group, LLC

Founded in 2000, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, is a nonpartisan public policy research and technical assistance firm that stands out for its quantitative expertise and innovative approaches to provide rigorous, data-driven research and technical assistance to government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic foundations. Located at the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in College Park, Optimal is a leader in driving real-time public policy research. Optimal has 60+ employees, including multidisciplinary researchers with backgrounds in economics, education, health, housing, sociology, statistics, information management and entrepreneurship. Optimal has four research centers—Health, Education, Housing and Workforce Development, and Social Policy—as well as an International Practice, Analytics Group, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.

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