Survey: Federal Chief Data Officers Tout Importance of Data Governance  

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Data governance is a major key for the success of chief data officers across government.

Three in four federal chief data officers have prioritized the completion of agency data inventories, according to a survey released by the Data Foundation.

The survey, sponsored by Grant Thornton Public Sector and Qlik, polled CDOs via email over the months of January and February and found significant agreement on the importance of data governance.

More than half of the chief data officers polled said they were focused on assessing agency data maturity, while two-thirds said they intend to focus on improving both their agency’s data and broad data strategy. In addition, 75% of those surveyed said they planned to prioritize the completion of their agency’s data inventory, as required by the passage of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Act.

“A growing cohort of CDOs are striving to make the data governance function not just a legal requirement, but one that is embedded into agency cultures and practices,” the report states. “While risks facing the CDO community are real, the potential for strengthening agency performance is great. CDOs are laying the foundation for major improvements in government’s operations that will benefit the American people for years to come.”

The survey indicates most CDOs are “experienced, tenured civil servants,” with 97% having worked for the federal government for five or more years. Nearly two-thirds of CDOs have been with the same organization for five or more years.

While CDOs have made significant progress implementing changes mandated by law, the survey suggests challenges and barriers remain. Three in five CDOs cite financial and budgetary constraints as “significant barriers” to promoting a data-driven government, while half have experienced challenges defining the CDO role. 

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