Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Fitzgerald ’20 MPA

Daniel Fitzgerald ’20 MPA discusses his experience in the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs MPA program and how it prepared him for his position as a Consultant in Federal Government Practice for ASR Analytics in Washington, D.C.

ASR Analytics provides analytic consulting services to clients in the public and private sectors, including state, local, and federal government, higher education, and for-profit enterprises including banking and manufacturing. ASR provides expertise in business intelligence, predictive modeling, and data mining — and in the design and development of customized technology tools that support forecasting, simulation analysis, optimization modeling, and data visualization.


Erie, Pennsylvania

You began your job recently. What have you worked on so far?

The majority of my work involves applying tools and lessons from data science, economics, and behavioral insights to redesign the policies and procedures of various federal agencies. This work is an ideal mix of data analytics and strategy consulting, and provides an interesting firsthand look at how government administration functions. Ultimately, these projects help the government better serve constituents. As the informative power of data continues to increase, outside contractors like ASR step in to help government bodies make informed decisions based on thorough analysis.

Where did you fulfill your MPA consultancy and how did the consultancy experience prepare you for the work you are doing now?

My consultancy was at Deloitte Belgium, on their public sector policy team. I worked directly with administrators within the European Union, helping to design policy strategy and implementation plans for newly passed open data legislation. The legislation called upon public data holders across Europe to make their data accessible and usable, with the goal of catalyzing public and private innovation. My team was tasked with leading the effort to create a roadmap by which the European Commission could feasibly implement such a wide-ranging and consequential directive. I learned a lot about working with public sector clients and I have been able to directly transfer what I learned over to my role at ASR.

“ The fundamentals of data science — especially at a conceptual level — have been crucial in helping me hit the ground running with my work at ASR. ”

Daniel Fitzgerald MPA Class of 2020

What sorts of skills from the MPA program have you used in your work?

The fundamentals of data science — especially at a conceptual level — have been crucial in helping me hit the ground running with my work at ASR. I’ve also been able to apply the big-picture critical thinking that I honed in classes like Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation. The math part of analysis is very important. But it’s just as important to step beyond that, by developing a compelling fact-driven narrative that clearly identifies a problem and proposes an educated solution. I was fortunate to strengthen both aspects of analysis in the MPA, and that has certainly helped me as I have navigated these first few months in this position.

What advice would you give to Brown MPA students coming to the program straight from their undergraduate studies, as you did?

Step out of your comfort zone. You likely didn’t come to this program to take the exact same types of courses you took in undergrad. If you’re looking for a new or refreshing angle on policy, then take a class in something you know the least about. For me, that step outside the comfort zone was the data track. I studied music and international relations in college, and had very little quantitative academic experience. I’m glad now, though, that my skill set includes the ability to approach policy and sociology questions from a data science perspective. That has really helped to round out my understanding of, and fluency in, research and analysis.