HUD seeks vendor to help set up central data office

The housing agency plans to work with the Centers of Excellence program at the General Services Administration to manage its troves of data.

dashboards (NicoElNino/

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking to industry to help it fill out its data management office.

Agencies are now required to designate chief data officers as part of the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act. While the Office of Management and Budget has said that initial guidance for implementing the new law is coming, HUD's draft request for quotes, posted on Github, offers something of a blueprint for how agencies could go about staffing their data management offices.

HUD is not just planning to tap a CDO as a singular position; instead, it wants to create a new office with support staff. To do so, the department is looking to hire a contractor that will help it staff the office, set up its future priorities and meet its legal requirements.

In formulating its office of the CDO, HUD plans to lean on its Centers of Excellence partnership with the General Services Administration. In phase one of the partnership, the team for the data analytics center -- one of the four at HUD -- will set up the OCDO to manage the department's data. The data analytics team also plans to create dashboards and visualization tools that make it easier to trace agency finances.

The notice sets out a series of contractor objectives for the next year. Some of the short-term items include staffing plans for the OCDO as well as a charter for a data governance steering committee.

HUD wants a contractor to help develop stakeholder working groups, assess workforce training needs, help the department with its congressional submissions as well as establish data quality, standards and policies. Longer term, the notice also sets out the creation of an open data portal prioritizing user-friendly design.

The draft request is for a three-year deal, with options after the first and second years.

Nick Hart, CEO of the Data Coalition and a contributor to the Evidence-based Policymaking Act, said the notice shows HUD's leaders are "genuinely interested in empowering the new chief data officer to be effective," adding the plans to provide support staff are a "productive step."

Moving forward, "agencies will all need to identify how to best allocate resources and develop expertise to meet their data needs," he said. "Part of that process should include seeking support and public input about how to organize for making data most accessible and useful for decision-making."

As tech officials across government plan for the implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act and other new data laws, the White House intends to roll out further guidance and priorities for agencies to keep in mind.

Federal CIO Suzette Kent has long teased the forthcoming Federal Data Strategy, which will be accompanied by an action plan for agencies, as an outline for future data-related activities that will prioritize the creation of data teams and CDOs.