The government is at no loss for data. And, over the last decade, there has been a concerted effort to use that data more efficiently to improve decision making and service to the citizen. Chief Data Officers are in place across government to shepherd the changes in process and technology needed to achieve the goals set forth in the Federal Data Strategy.
Meeting the Plan to Plan
Department-level data strategies have been borne out of the federal guidance to mature data governance and infrastructure and publish those plans. In fact, the report "CDO Insights: 2021 Survey Results On the Maturation of Data Governance in U.S. Federal Agencies," found that 75 percent of respondents said they had started or completed five of the six action items named in the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan. The report found that constituting a data governance body (completed by 75%) was the least challenging action. Getting these bodies in place means that beyond department-level plans, some agencies are moving to making plans for critical subsets of data much like the State Department did for geospatial data.
Both of these documents define the specific roles and responsibilities of data officers and provide a framework for working with and securing data. Of course, each agency has unique requirements and missions, leaving the CDO to work out how to apply this guidance and standards to their organization.
Agencies are meeting these guidelines and integrating CDOs in different ways. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a department-level CDO office to better integrate data into its operations and those of other agencies. The need for this level of coordination was underscored as DHS launched a department-wide COVID-19 vaccination campaign in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs health centers. DHS needed to identify, contact and manage responses from workers, which meant collecting and reconciling many different datasets from across the department.
Chief Data Officer (CDO) may be one of the newest C-suite designations, and it's quickly becoming one of the most important. With data-driven government becoming a mandate via the Federal Data Strategy and the Evidence Act, accountability around data management is essential. More than just a way to check a compliance box, having a CDO is a smart business decision in a world where data is critical to how government organizations interact with constituents. However, having a CDO is only a start. The CDO needs to be set up for success as well.
One report indicated that 60% of federal CDOs lack a clear understanding of their role. According to Gartner, a CDO is a senior executive who bears responsibility for enterprise-wide data and information strategy, governance, control, policy development, and effective exploitation. This role makes sure data is secured appropriately for access, as well as privacy concerns, and sets the rules and processes for managing the data lifecycle. The CDO also develops solutions to use that data to create business value.
Even if the role is defined within an organization, CDOs report they lack budget authority or insight into what budget they have to complete their jobs. This mirrors what we have seen with another "young" position, CIOs. Chief Information Officers have seen their role elevated by its measurement in the FITARA scorecard, and with that tracking, are getting more budget authority and input. In addition to budget, CDOs also need the authority to set and enforce policies and processes across their organization and, in doing so, streamline communication among related groups. Continue reading →
With the closing of the decade, we thought it would be interesting to look back at the top technology headlines of 2009 and compare them to where the market is today.
Data on the Rise
Big news was the launch of data.gov in late May of 2009. The site was championed by the country's first Federal CTO, Vivek Kundra, as a way to enable citizens to access federal data. In addition to making the government more transparent, the hope was that private sector could use the massive amount of federal data in research and to create innovative programs and solutions. The site launched with 47 data sets and as of the last reporting (June 2017) it now holds approximately 200,000 datasets, representing about 10 million data resources. Beyond these numbers, data.gov's impact has been significant.
Thousands of programs can point to the site as the basis for their development. More importantly, it launched a new way of thinking in government. Agencies stopped being as territorial about their data and slowly but surely became more open to sharing it with one another and with the public as they saw what innovation can happen with simple access. In 2019, the vision of data.gov expanded with the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act, requiring that nonsensitive government data be made available in machine-readable, open formats by default. Continue reading →
Moving to electronic records makes sense on so many levels. There are the environmental impacts of less paper as well as reducing the need for real estate to simply house file cabinets. Electronic records also allow for more transparency and access to data for citizens and government alike, leading to more effective sharing of data and collaboration between agencies as well as more efficient workflows. The digitization of government is in many ways a "no brainer." But, just because it makes eminent sense, does not mean it is easy.[Tweet "Identifying and Overcoming the Challenges of Electronic Records in Government. #GovEventsBlog"]
There are so many considerations when moving to electronic records. First, it is difficult to backfill old content into today's digital systems. You cannot simply upload terabytes of pdfs and make them searchable. Moving forward, an enterprise digital strategy is needed to ensure documents and information are created in a way that can be digitized, searched, and shared. Continue reading →