Data and the Decision Support System at City College of San Francisco (CCSF)

Project Start Date: 

The purpose of this research was to understand how the integration of the new Decision Support System (DSS) at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) had impacted data retrieval at the college, and specifically, how decision making had been affected in various divisions and among a variety of users. There were several initial questions that the college’s Office of Research, Planning and Grants (ORPG) sought to answer, such as: How are people using the DSS, and what are they using it for? Has the DSS changed people's perception of how data and information are used at the college? How can the college interest a wider audience in the DSS? This paper attempts to answer these questions, as well as provide additional context for understanding how the new DSS influenced the way decisions were approached or resolved. In addition, we were interested in finding out whether the structure or function of users’ positions had shifted with ongoing use of the new system. And finally, we wanted the opportunity to explore and document the process by which CCSF had introduced this desktop research tool into the culture of the organization and to examine its impact on the behaviors of those within the college.

Our Role: 

A total of 27 interviews were conducted with administrators, faculty, and staff at CCSF, from a sample which included a cross-section of those who had used the DSS during a specific nine-month period, for people who had been employeed by the district for at least two years, and across departments and positions within the college.

Image Attribution: 
Photo credit: Licensed CC-BY-NC-2.0 ( by Troy Holden (

This research showed that the introduction of a Decision Support System (DSS) had considerable impact on the way that decisions were made at the institution. Specifically, we found that due to the decentralization of data, moving it from the Office of Research, Planning and Grants (ORPG) to individuals’ desktops, there was a shift in 1) how people perceived thinking through a problem on their own; and 2) invited a new level of inquiry to develop because people could access data on their own instead of waiting for another office to provide it for them.

Service Areas: