Capitol Corner — May 2019

Capitol Corner — May 2019

Published monthly as part of the FLC’s DC Perspective content, Capitol Corner focuses on one notable news item pertaining to the T2 community. The focus stems from agency publications, news sites and DC-central organizations, with original sources, contacts, and links provided. For more information and Corner-related inquiries, please contact dcnews@federallabs.org.

In line with last year’s draft National Cyber and Cloud Strategies, the White House and the General Services Administration (GSA) will be releasing the final, revised Federal Data Strategy in August. The draft Strategy was unveiled last fall. The final version will include data governance principles and strategic goals over 5-year and 10-year milestones. The revision will also feature processes for agencies to immediately start implementing governance standards. The Strategy’s mission is to “fully leverage the value of federal data for mission, service, and the public good by guiding the Federal Government in practicing ethical governance, conscious design, and learning culture.” A push to develop this strategy stems from the latest President’s Management Agenda and its cross-agency priority (CAP) goal to leverage data as a strategic asset.

The history of this Strategy is brief, but it can be summarized as a study in consolidating and reducing the number of principles and objectives identified and enforced. According to Data.gov, 10 draft principles for data governance initially published last June received almost 100 comments regarding the length and word choices for principles’ categories. (Originally, principles were organized under “stewardship,” “quality,” and “continuous improvement.” Feedback caused these headings to be replaced with “ethical governance,” “conscious design,” and “learning culture.”)

The second round of feedback revolved around five broad strategic objectives: to govern and manage data as a strategic asset, protect and secure data, promote efficient use of data assets, build a culture that data is an asset, and honor stakeholder input and leverage partners. In addition, four working groups of federal data fellows developed an extensive list of draft practices that fall in line with both the Strategy’s principles and its strategic objectives. According to the Federal Register, “the practices represent aspirational goals that, when fully realized, will enable agencies, practitioners and policymakers to improve the government’s approach to data stewardship and leverage data to create value.”

Trey Bradley announced earlier this month that the Data Strategy would not be fundamentally different from its two previous versions. Bradley, the program manager for strategic data initiatives in GSA’s Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement, did confirm that the Strategy would have a more specific annual action plan to help agencies better implement data governance, and that several draft practices would be reduced, consolidated, or eliminated.

Because the Strategy’s ten principles aren’t being entirely revised before August, we’ve listed them below. We will also touch base on the updated Data Strategy when it arrives.

  1. Exercise Responsibility: Practice effective data stewardship and governance by maintaining modern data security practices, protecting individual privacy, and maintaining promised confidentiality.
  2. Uphold Ethics: Consider, monitor, and assess the implications of federal data practices for the public, and provide sufficient checks and balances to protect and serve the public interest.
  3. Promote Transparency: Articulate purposes for acquiring, using, and disseminating data and comprehensively document processes and products to inform data users.
  4. Integrate Intentionality: Create, acquire, use, and disseminate data deliberately and thoughtfully, considering quality, consistency, privacy, value, reuse, and interoperability from the start.
  5. Ensure Relevance: Validate that data are high quality, useful, understandable, timely, and needed.
  6. Create Value: Coordinate and prioritize data needs and uses, harness data from multiple sources, and acquire new data only when necessary.
  7. Demonstrate Responsiveness: Improve data sharing and access with ongoing input from users and other stakeholders.
  8. Prioritize Best Practices: Model, assess, and continuously update best practices throughout the data life cycle.
  9. Invest in Learning: Promote a culture of continuous and collaborative learning with data and about data.
  10. Practice Accountability: Audit data practices, document and learn from results, and make changes as needed based on findings

More information on the Federal Data Strategy’s past, present, and future can be accessed here.

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