Program analysts are employed by private businesses and by local, state and federal government departments and agencies. The goal of a private sector program analyst is to increase corporate profitability. The goal of a public sector program analyst is to improve operations and procedures in ways that benefit the U.S., its people and its business interests.
General Program Analyst Responsibilities
The responsibilities of government program analysts vary from department to department, but there are some basic similarities. When reviewing a program, analysts gather and analyze data to determine the program’s effectiveness and submit enhancement and improvement recommendations. Analysts typically focus on a program’s fiscal, operational, legislative or political aspects. The reports and recommendations they generate help further and promote each program’s original purpose.
Examples of Program Analyst Positions
Program analysts serve within each government agency and department. While positions such as intelligence analyst are widely recognized, other roles are more obscure. The following is a description of some common analyst positions:
Public Policy Analyst: Deeply entrenched in the history of our global political system, public policy analysts study policy-related trends and government structures to discern real life implications of specific political strategies.
Counterterrorism Analyst: These members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) evaluate the motives of terrorist organizations and relay their findings to government officials. Their work helps identify threats, possible attacks and other activities that could harm our country and its people.
Intelligence Analyst: As members of the CIA or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these analysts interpret information collected by government agents and operatives. Their interpretations help protect U.S. interests both at home and abroad.
Business Analyst/Management Analyst: Often referred to as management consultants, these analysts carefully review and examine government programs and processes creating important bureaucratic efficiency. Business and management analysts have significant information technology proficiency.
Operations Research Analyst: Mathematical analysis and operational research techniques allow these analysts to identify a program’s strengths and deficiencies, while reducing government costs.
Financial Analyst: These analysts are familiar with financial and economic principles. This knowledge is used to create general business forecasts. They also conduct financial cost evaluations and help determine the financial competence of current and potential government programs. Credit analysts, tax examiners, loan specialists and accountants all work within this job function.
Economic Analyst: Through micro and macro-style economic review, these analysts assess trade and other global financial issues affecting the U.S. economy.
Political Analyst: Extensive knowledge of foreign governments and cultures helps these individuals assess the impact of domestic policies on international relations.
The Skillset of a Government Program Analyst
First and foremost, all government analysts must understand our system of government as well as important policy considerations. Such knowledge can be acquired while pursuing relevant graduate degree programs, such as a Masters in Public Administration (MPA).
The primary responsibility of any government program analyst is to recognize program pitfalls and identify effective and efficient solutions. As such, these individuals must possess strong qualitative and quantitative analytical capabilities. Additionally, a willingness to learn, the ability to think outside the box, impeccable research skills and organizational awareness are important characteristics. Succinct written communication skills are also important, as analysts often present their recommendations via written report.
A government analyst’s effectiveness is bolstered by his or her relevant work experience and educational background.
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