How the administration is tackling data challenges

Over 50 federal employees across four teams are working to develop data definitions and strategies for government that will promote transparency and effective uses of the vast stores of information federal agencies produce every day.

According to federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent, that work will create the fuel and engine for future innovation.

“We also reached out to agencies to ask for some of the best and brightest to be data fellows and actually work on development of the strategy, on definition of the incubator, to lead the various workstreams. More than 50 individuals from across the various agencies and some from outside government were part of that work,” Kent said at an Oct. 10 Data Foundation event.

The work is part of the data-oriented cross agency priority goal of the President’s Management Agenda, and employees working on the goal are divided into four strategic areas:

  1. Enterprise data governance

  2. Access, use and augmentation 

  3. Decision-making and accountability 

  4. Commercialization, innovation and public use

“What we’re intending to do in this CAP goal is a comprehensive strategy to fully leverage data and work across the silos,” said Kent. “Just having conversations and elevating data as a strategic CAP goal has driven cross-agency sharing and has driven very helpful conversations about how we can leverage the data we already have.”

Those four groups were then made responsible for accomplishing three tasks, some of which have already been completed.

The first task was to define the guiding principles of federal data usage, which are scheduled to be posted sometime in October on strategy.data.gov.

Also starting October 2018, the teams then have to draft best practices for data usage across agencies, which would then go out for public comment and are scheduled to be finally released as part of the Federal Data Strategy in January 2019.

Finally, the teams have to develop incubator use cases that prove the data strategies work as advertised.

"We are building a five-year, 10-year strategy, decade-long strategy, but you have to show some proof right?” said Kent. “There has been a call to solicit input from industry, from agencies to say, ‘What are the problems that we’re trying to solve?’ ”

That work culminates in a Data Incubator Playbook scheduled to be finished in April 2019.