One of the many items the Chief Data Officer (CDO) Council is tasked with is data governance. While this has always been a challenging task, today, it is more complicated than ever because of the increasingly large amounts of data handled by federal agencies. In the year since the inaugural CDO Council meeting, research shows that data governance is being strengthened across the government, yet there’s still room for improvement.
“Data governance has been a clear priority for the CDO Council since its inception,” explained Heather Gittings, senior director, Principal Strategic Advisor—Global Public Sector & Healthcare at Qlik. “The Council has backed this goal with concrete initiatives and objectives and has even encouraged agencies to implement offensive data strategies to support this.”
Prior to the first meeting, Congress passed the Evidence Act in 2019 which, according to the Data Foundation, “set clear expectations for federal agencies to strengthen data governance.” From there, agencies were required to start inventorying data, promoting openness and publication of information, and ensuring leadership to improve data management. This also helped to formalize the role of the CDO in agencies and standardized CDOs responsibilities like ensuring proper data governance.
To understand the role CDOs play in strengthening data governance the Data Foundation, in partnership with Grant Thornton Public Sector and Qlik, surveyed federal government CDOs to assess progress. The results showed that CDOs were able to report progress on key deliverables and that “nearly 75% of CDOs reported successful data governance efforts and progress developing data inventories, core requirements enumerated in the Evidence Act,” according to the report.
Despite the success seen across the federal government, challenges and barriers remain. “Even as CDOs make progress on core obligations, they note challenges to meeting individual responsibilities and community expectations. Three-in-five CDOs cite financial and budgetary constraints as significant barriers to promoting data-driven government; half have experienced challenges defining the CDO role in government.”
“While challenges are still present in establishing and maintaining data governance, based on the survey, many CDOs are in agreement over priorities moving forward,” explained Gittings. “It’s clear to them where improvement is needed – and can be achieved – to foster mission success among individual agencies and the federal government as a whole.”
There’s been a lot of positive progress in terms of data governance for federal agencies. From the Evidence Act to the inception of the CDO Council, the foundation has been laid. What’s next is navigating the challenges outlined in the survey, including financial and budgetary constraints. From there data-driven mission success becomes a reality.
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