The President’s Management Agenda (PMA) lays out a long-term vision for modernizing the Federal Government. Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal #2 is “leverage data as a strategic asset to grow the economy, increase the effectiveness of the Federal Government, facilitate oversight, and promote transparency.”
The administration is building upon prior efforts such as data.gov (which focused on making government data openly available) by better organizing the data and encouraging non-governmental entities in the private sector to use the data for the nation’s benefit.
As data practitioners you should know that there have been two publicly released Requests For Information (RFIs) related to the Federal Data Strategy (FDS).
Although the RFI response deadlines have passed, you can still track and get involved in this initiative as it moves forward. This is an opportunity to not only ask for the data that you need to improve your business or research, but also a way to lend your expertise to help solve some of the nation’s hardest problems by being part of the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that will be forming around the use of data.
MITRE, which is a not-for profit that works in the public interest and runs several Federally Funded Research and Development Corporations, (FFRDCs), has gotten involved by responding to both RFIs. Details about our responses to the FDS, can be found in the article entitled Insights to Guide Federal Data Strategy on our website at MITRE.org.
To get up to speed on the FDS efforts to date, the first RFI, available here was issued on June 27, 2018 and requested comments on best strategies and processes for achieving the CAP goal as well as soliciting use cases. Specifically, they requested feedback in the context of their stated four pillars of the FDS which are:
- Enterprise Data Governance— What data governance and stewardship practices should the Federal Government be employing and why?
- Access, Use and Augmentation—What data interoperability techniques or coordination tactics would better serve agency mission and the public?
- Decision-making and Accountability— How can the Federal Government better assist policy-makers with data?
- Commercialization, Innovation and Public Use—What data solutions could address a pervasive problem in government service delivery or the public sphere?
The second FDS Phase 2 RFI was released in the Federal Register feedback on October 17, 2018 and requested feedback on 47 draft best practices that were submitted as a result of the first RFI. In response to this request, MITRE data management subject matter experts suggested boiling the 47 practices down to a more manageable size and came up with a 1-page consolidated Federal Data Practices listing which had 5 objectives and 18 practices. These were:
|Objective||Practice #||Data Practice|
|Govern and Manage Data as a Strategic Asset||1||Establish an overarching Data Governance Council that spans all agencies. Establish, and connect a network of offices responsible for data management|
|2||Standardize, Coordinate, and Inventory Key Data Assets. Manage them as authoritative data sources across federal government|
|3||Periodically review data collection procedures to promote public trust|
|4||Make data management requirements a fundamental component of contracts and agreements|
|Protect and Secure Data||5||Define roles and responsibilities for protecting confidentiality|
|6||Make data-centric security fundamental to system design|
|Promote Efficient Use of Data Assets||7||Publish, maintain, and protect comprehensive data and documentation for agencies, partners, and citizens. Allow for multiple access tiers|
|8||Preserve federal data by standardizing and applying metadata|
|9||Promote data sharing within and across agencies and partners. Work towards a shared services platform|
|Build a Culture that Values Data as an Asset||10||Conduct and publish periodic assessments of federal data management maturity|
|11||Educate and empower staff to increase capacity for data management and analytics|
|12||Routinely assess the value of data assets and recover allowable costs|
|13||Connect federal spending to the value of specific data assets|
|14||Standardize and explicitly depict data investments in annual capital planning processes|
|Honor Stakeholder Input and Leverage Partners||15||Leverage and optimize use of private-sector data assets and services|
|16||Engage end users and stakeholders directly in verifying data quality|
|17||Establish a process for members of the public to access and amend federal data about themselves|
|18||Leverage public-private partnerships and collaboration|
Many of these concepts are covered in the Modern Data Strategy book authored by my MITRE colleagues Mike Fleckenstein and Lorraine Fellows. Digital copies of the book are available for free to Federal employees. If you want to provide feedback on these best practices please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
This quarter’s column was written by Elizabeth McGrath, the Department Head for the MITRE Data Management, Integration & Interoperability department. She is also the Co-chair of the ISAO Standards Organization’s International Working Group. She has worked on several national cross-agency cyber information sharing efforts.