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Tom Humphrey
By Tom Humphrey February 6, 2012

Dashboard has been cranked out

In a campaign speech at Nashville, gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam declared that, as governor, he would have a "dashboard” in his office to display key data showing Tennessee"s progress in various areas.

"Every morning, if I"m governor, I"m going to wake up and look at that dashboard,” Haslam said in the September 2010 speech to the Nashville Rotary Club.

For more than a year after his inauguration, Haslam could not gaze upon a dashboard. But now he can – if he goes online. There is not actually a physical gadget in his office, says spokesman David Smith, though some might have interpreted his campaign commentary as implying there would be.

Haslam's Democratic opponent, Mike McWherter, was not impressed with the Haslam promise during the campaign. He declared the dashboard "little more than a gimmick masquerading as policy.” Haslam said it would be a constant reminder of priorities and a means of measuring his performance.

In an interview a couple of weeks before the official dashboard unveiling on Jan. 27, 2012, Haslam said putting the thing together proved more complicated than initially expected. The idea, as enunciated during his campaign, was to tell at a glance where the state stands in such areas as jobs, education, fiscal strength and health.

A threshold proposition, the governor said, was figuring out what to put on the dashboard. The state unemployment rate might be an obvious bit of data to display, for example, but what about high school and/or college graduation rates?

As it turns out, the initial dashboard lists five areas of concentration: Jobs & Economic Development,  Education & Workforce Development, Fiscal Strength, Public Safety and Health & Welfare. Then each of those areas is broke down into categories. Jobs & Economic Development, for example, has the unemployment rate, employment growth, per capital personal income, average annual income, poverty rate, growth in GDP, net new jobs and business tax climate ranking.

"Our team has worked incredibly hard on this important resource, but this is very much a first step,” said Haslam in announcing implementation of  the dashboard. "We'll be updating the tool over the days and months to come, so feel free to share your ideas and feedback for version two.”

Haslam's staff put a headline on the announcement of its creation declaring, "A campaign promise kept.”

We agree. Gimmick or valuable information tool, this is a Promise Kept.

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