Have Ideas on How Agencies Can Actually Use All Their Data?


The Federal Data Strategy team wants feedback on its framework for how agencies can leverage their data.

Agencies will have to use data as a strategic asset by this time next year and the working group tasked with developing a governmentwide plan wants feedback on a list of action items.

Federal agencies are under a mandate to use data as a strategic asset in meeting their missions and serving citizens. A Federal Data Strategy team was put together to create a roadmap for departments and programs to follow.

The team is being led by the Commerce Department Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Karen Dunn Kelley, federal Chief Information Office Suzette Kent and Chief Statistician of the United States Nancy Potok, with help from the Small Business Administration, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and four working groups made up of 10 federal data fellows each.

The final plan will include guiding principles and strategic goals for using data with milestones set for five and 10 years, according to a notice on the Federal Register. The group will have the plan ready by April 2019, with steps agencies will be able to begin implementing immediately.

The first comment period yielded 237 comments and prompted the working group to alter the 10 principles it was using as a guidepost. The original three topline principles of “stewardship,” “quality” and “continuous improvement” were swapped with “ethical governance,” “conscious design” and “learning culture” based on public feedback.

The full list also raises “uphold ethics” to come before “promote transparency” and adds more plain language, among other symbolic but noteworthy changes.

For the second comment period starting Wednesday, the group is looking for feedback on the best practices that should be included in the strategy. This effort will be centered around five broad objectives:

  • Govern and manage data as a strategic asset.
  • Protect and secure data.
  • Promote efficient use of data assets.
  • Build a culture that values data as an asset.
  • Honor stakeholder input and leverage partners.

Four working groups have developed a list of 47 draft practices, each aligned to one of the guiding principles. Now, the groups want the public to weigh in on the practices themselves—including any that might have been left off or ways to improve those listed—as well as the framework for organizing them, with an eye toward making it easier for a federal audience to adopt.

“The practices are designed to inform agency actions on a regular basis, to be continually relevant and to be sufficiently general so as to broadly apply at all federal agencies and across all missions,” the register notice reads. “The practices represent aspirational goals that, when fully realized, will enable agencies, practitioners and policymakers to improve the government’s approach to data stewardship and leverage data to create value.”

Interested persons can respond through the Federal Register or at strategy.data.gov. The comment period will be open for 30 days.