Creation of data council among new US data plan actions

By on 07/01/2020
A part of the action plan, the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) will develop data quality measuring and reporting guidance. (Image courtesy: energepic.com/Pexels).

The USA is set to establish a national data council, having announced its launch in the final version of the country’s Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan. The final action plan also includes three other provisions not set out in the last version, published in June, and according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “establishes a solid foundation that will support implementation of the strategy over the next decade.”

One of the new actions will see the launch of a Federal Chief Data Officer Council. In collaboration with other federal councils, this will represent government-wide best practices for the generation, use, protection, and dissemination of data; promote and encourage data sharing agreements between agencies; and identify ways in which agencies can improve the production of evidence for use in policymaking.

The other new provisions require agencies to publish and update data inventories; the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) to develop data quality measuring and reporting guidance; and the OMB to create a data standards repository. The latter will be developed in collaboration with the General Services Administration (GSA) and in consultation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and aims to provide information that will help accelerate the creation and adoption of data standards across agencies.

20 actions form 2020 vision

Actions carried over from the June draft plan include institutionalising agency data governance; assessing data and related infrastructure maturity; identifying opportunities to increase staff data skills; and developing a data ethics toolkit.

In total, the plan comprises 20 actions: six agency actions; four ‘community of practice’ actions to be “taken by a specific agency or group of agencies related to a common topic”; and 10 shared solution actions. Each action has a target date for completion, ranging from one to 12 months.

Together the actions, developed by the OMB on the basis of stakeholder feedback, set out how agencies will be expected to prioritise data over the coming year. “Specifically, the plan identifies initial actions for agencies that are essential for establishing processes, building capacity, and aligning existing efforts to better leverage data as a strategic asset,” OMB said.

In a tweet announcing the publication of the plan, federal CIO Suzette Kent said that “2020 is the year federal agencies will unlock the potential of federal data to catalyse the economy, support research, and improve federal services”.

Data Coalition CEO Nick Hart, who has been closely involved in the creation of the action plan, welcomed the final draft as a “productive start” in a statement reported by FedScoop, adding that he was pleased to see that a number of suggestions from industry and stakeholders outside government “were thoughtfully incorporated into the final action plan”.

A framework for consistency

The 2020 Action Plan is part of the Federal Data Strategy, outlined in OMB’s Federal Data Strategy – A Framework for Consistency memo in June 2019. The strategy is a ten-year vision for how the federal government will “accelerate the use of data to deliver on mission, serve the public, and steward resources, while protecting security, privacy, and confidentiality”.

The OMB says fully implementing the practices described in the strategy “will require a sustained, iterative, and systematic effort over a ten-year period”.

It said the action plans produced each year will identify priority actions for a given year and “incrementally build on progress from year to year, capitalising on the successes of previous efforts, aligning with ongoing federal government programs and policies, and complementing new statutory requirements”.

The OMB said feedback from stakeholders will continue to “identify key topic areas for future annual action plans, such as attention to data quality, increasing opportunities for safe data-sharing, increasing data literacy throughout the federal workforce, and addressing organisational culture in support of leveraging data as a strategic asset”.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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