Get to Know a Chief Data Officer: Dan Morgan, Transportation

Nextgov sat down with five agency chief data officers across government. Read edited excerpts with Dan Morgan, chief data officer for the Transportation Department.

The emergence of chief data officers in government has accelerated in recent months. No fewer than six newly minted CDOs have been appointed to agency spots since July.

Nextgov sat down with five agency CDOs across government to discuss their to-do lists, how they’re approaching their roles and just how important the “chief” title really is. Below, read edited excerpts. 

Read more from the special report: "The Rise of the Chief Data Officer"

Dan Morgan, CDO of the Transportation Department

Image via Flickr user M.V. Jantzen

The CV

Morgan started out as a supply chain analyst working for the Navy. His first work with Transportation was as a contractor working on enterprise architecture and IT governance issues. "When the opportunity arose” last summer to become the agency’s first CDO, he says, “I jumped at it.”

The Org Chart

So far, Morgan is the only official employee of the CDO office. Morgan reports to the chief technology officer, who, in turn, reports to the agency’s chief information officer.

The To-List

"I came in and spent the first few months really interviewing a bunch of stakeholders around the department to understand what their needs were,” Morgan says. From those conversations, he put together an 18-month plan built around three pillars: building a foundation of data policies, engaging with citizens on how they can use department data and enabling employees to better leverage data in-house.

"We're looking at how we can structure our enterprise architecture to support data management and data sharing and looking to build a sandbox to start experimenting with new data-management analysis tools,” he says.

The Data

Everything from flight, aircraft and radar data collected by the Federal Aviation Administration to information about cars, drivers and crashes collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The CDO Title

"I'm not sure that the title matters so much as how you approach the work and the relationships that you build,” Morgan says. “Chief data scientists bring a different skill set to the table than a chief data officer. I wouldn't say that I'm a chief data scientist or even the chief analytics officer. There's been a proliferation of chief titles, but I think what matters more is the scope of the activity that my office leads and the way we build relationships to get results for the department.”

Meet the Chief Data Officers

Read Q&As with all five CDOs profiled by Nextgov.

Read more from the Q&A with Niall Brennan

Read more from the Q&A with Lynn Overmann

Read more from the Q&A with Brandon Pustejovsky

Read more from the Q&A with Scott Shoup