OMB previews next steps on data policy

Data analytics 

The White House will soon unveil its plan for managing data within and across agencies, as well as guidance for recently passed legislation, per top two IT officials in the administration's tech management policy office.

"In the data space, we have a lot more to do," Federal CIO Suzette Kent said at an April 24 event hosted by AFCEA.

Kent said she was "hopeful" that, after months of teasing it and shutdown-induced delays, the Federal Data Strategy -- along with the first interagency guidance on implementing evidence-based policymaking -- would be out "within the next 30 days."

Margie Graves, the deputy federal CIO, added that the first-of-its-kind, governmentwide data strategy is currently "in clearance" for release. "It's going through the hoops that it has to go through in order for it to be codified and published," she said.

Kent said the data strategy's priorities, which will be accompanied by an action plan for agencies, are the "creation of data teams, chief data officers, councils and specific initiatives" and focus on building skills and on the "inventory of our data" and its protection.

Graves said that the strategy is "centered" on crowdsourced feedback of the draft version put out in July, and it incorporates public input as well as work with "good-government groups, trade associations and people that we knew in industry where this was their bread and butter and would be affected by some of the things we were proposing to do."

The initial evidence-based policymaking guidance, Kent said, will clarify the roles, responsibilities and requirements for the chief data officer position, the creation of which is mandated by the new law.

Together, the documents will detail "how the chief data officer works with the CIO, with the privacy officer and with the evidence teams," she said. "Those have to be working in harmony in our agencies so that we're protecting the data from the wrong people, using it for the right things, and we're ensuring privacy and civil liberties are addressed ... in everything we choose to do with the data and the way we interact with the citizens from whom we're gathering that."

Kent's update on the guidance comes about a month after agency CIOs, chief data officers and chief information security officers huddled to go over the legislation and share feedback on challenges in implementing it.

Further, Kent said there will be data-focused activities related to the executive order on artificial intelligence, as well as a attention to industry concerns, "asking what are the datasets we can liberate and make available that are actually going to spur the research and development in the AI space."

"That is very important for what we will do in the federal government," she said.

Graves acknowledged that these rollouts are new, unfunded responsibilities agencies must take on without increased funding and resources to carry them out.

While the guidance can help agencies with how to implement these new mandates, Graves acknowledged that from the management side of the Office of Management and Budget, "I can't do anything but advocate."

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter


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