The timeline had been postponed and drawn out, but after much anticipation, Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent officially unveiled the Federal Data Strategy on Tuesday. The Federal Data Strategy, which was first teased by the President’s Management Agenda’s data cross-agency priority (CAP) goal in March 2018, includes principles and practices for federal agencies’ data governance along the lines of mission, service and stewardship.
“What you will see is, like any lofty goal, we are looking both strategically and tactically, and we have to start with the basics and invest and build a rock-solid foundation,” Kent said in a media call with reporters Tuesday. “And the framework that we’re sharing today supports raising the bar for consistency of skills, interoperability and the best practices for how the agencies manage and use data.”
The strategy itself is broken into three categories of practice around culture, governance and promotion. Specific practices can be seen at the bottom of this page.
Kent said that the finalization of the 40 practices and 12 principles would expand on the foundations of legislation and agency-crafted policies of the past, prioritizing data usability, shareability, privacy, security and transparency. The principles are intended to be the “north star” for measuring and evaluating outcomes, while the practices are designed to deliver those outcomes, a senior administration official said.
While the policies and practices are now official, none stand out as original or surprising. Administration officials engaged government leaders, industry partners and academics in creating draft policies and practices that the public could then comment on. The last draft had 47 practices, while the finalized list was consolidated into 40.
“The approach to the strategy was even different to how we’ve approached other things. The leadership came from across government,” Kent said.
One policy that the Federal Data Strategy builds off of is the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, which requires that government agencies make information that is not subject to privacy and security laws available in accessible formats on their websites.
In crafting the Federal Data Strategy, a team of more than 40 employees took data policies from the General Service Administration (GSA), Commerce Department (DOC), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Small Business Administration (SBA), a senior administration official said. DOC and SBA officials served as leads for the original “Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset” CAP goal because of their experience in sharing and using data.
The administration is seeking public comment on the draft 2019-2020 action plan by July 5.
To see the practices, visit the Federal Data Strategy website here. Below are 10 of the most important practices to know as identified by GovLoop.
Ten Practices to Know From the Federal Data Strategy
4. Use Data to Guide Decision-Making: Effectively, routinely, transparently, and appropriately use data in policy, planning, and operations to guide decision-making; share the data and analyses behind those decisions.
7. Use Data to Increase Accountability: Align operational and regulatory data inputs with performance measures and other outputs to help the public to understand the results of federal investments and to support informed decision-making and rule-making.
8. Monitor and Address Public Perceptions: Regularly assess and address public confidence in the value, accuracy, objectivity, and privacy protection of federal data to make strategic improvements, advance agency missions, and improve public messages about planned and potential uses of federal data.
9. Connect Data Functions Across Agencies: Establish communities of practice for common agency data Junctions (e.g. data management, access, analytics, informatics, and user support) to promote efficiency, collaboration, and coordination.
12. Govern Data to Protect Confidentiality and Privacy: Ensure there are sufficient authorities, roles, organizational structures, policies, and resources in place to provide appropriate access to confidential data and to maintain public trust and safeguard privacy.
20. Leverage Data Standards: Adopt or adapt, create as needed, and implement data standards within relevant communities of interest to maximize data quality and facilitate use, access, sharing, and interoperability.
26. Share Data Between State, Local, and Tribal Governments and Federal Agencies: Facilitate data sharing between state, local, and tribal governments and the Federal Government, where relevant and appropriate and with proper protections, particularly for programs that are federally funded and locally administered, to enable richer analyses for more informed decision-making.
29. Design Data for Use and Re-Use: Design new data collections with the end uses and users in mind to ensure that data are necessary and of high enough quality to meet planned and future agency and stakeholder needs.
33. Promote Wide Access: Promote equitable and appropriate access to data in open, machine-readable form and through multiple mechanisms, including through both federal and non-federal providers, to meet stakeholder needs while protecting privacy, confidentiality, and proprietary interests.
35. Review Data Releases for Disclosure Risk: Review federal data releases to the public to assess and minimize the risk of re-identification, consistent with applicable laws and policies, and publish reviews to promote transparency and public trust.