Yesterday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released their long-awaited draft Federal Data Strategy Action Plan which outlines the Administration’s concrete action plan for implementing the President’s Management Agenda priority to leverage data as a National Strategic Asset. It also serves as a blueprint for the government’s implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking/Open Government Act, which was signed into law in January.
Along with the draft action plan, OMB released final versions of the principles and practices it expects agencies to follow in gathering, using, protecting, and engaging with data.
The draft action plan, which is open for public comment until July 5th, lays out actions considered fundamental for the government to undertake during the first year in order to execute the full breadth of the strategy over time. It includes concrete deliverables for each individual federal agency, as well as government-wide actions facilitated by collaborative agency work.
The plan articulates six actions for all federal agencies to individually complete once the action plan is finalized in August:
- Improve data resources for artificial intelligence research and development by February 2020
- Constitute a diverse data governance body by September 2019
- Assess data and related infrastructure maturity by May 2020
- Identify opportunities to increase staff data skills by May 2020
- Identify data needed to answer key agency questions by August 2020
- Identify priority datasets for agency open data plans by August 2020
The document acknowledges that some agencies have already made significant inroads towards achieving these goals, while some are just at the beginning of the process, so progress is likely to be a bit uneven across the agency landscape.
Additionally, the Plan calls for ten government-wide collaborative actions to take place over the same time frame:
- OMB will create an agency data council by November 2019
- The General Services Administration (GSA) will create a curated catalog of data science training by February 2020
- GSA will develop a data ethics framework by November 2019
- GSA will develop a repository of tools and resources to implement the Federal Data Strategy by November 2019
- The Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology will develop a data protection toolkit by August 2020
- The Census Bureau will pilot a one-stop standard application for research access to Federal data by August 2020
- The Department of Education will pilot an automated tool to populate metadata on agency enterprise data inventories by August 2020
- GSA will create a government-wide data catalog platform pilot with a shared code base and cloud hosting for agencies by February 2020
- The President’s Management Council will improve management and use of financial management data assets by August 2020
- The Federal Geospatial Data Committee will improve geospatial data standards by August 2020
Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Suzette Kent has said that the strategy is designed to move all federal agencies towards one big, ambitious goal — harnessing data across the government to solve meaningful citizen challenges. She notes that the plan is designed to “move on both the strategic and tactical levels, providing a framework that raises the bar for consistency of skills, interoperability and the best practices for how agencies use and manage data.”
To drive the process forward, OMB will issue annual updates to the action plan that articulate additional steps for agencies need to take within the following year. The tripartite structure of articulating principles, best practices, and an ambitious annual action plan is model that should be of deep interest to the higher education community, as we wrestle with updating campus data policies and move them from the realm of the technical and tactical and more deliberately, into treating data as a strategic asset.