Federal Data Strategy Year 2 action plan will continue ‘foundational’ actions

Ted Kaouk speaks during a fireside chat at the 2020 IT Modernization Summit. (FedScoop)

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The Federal Data Strategy 2021 Action Plan isn’t yet complete, but it will include a sustained focus on foundational actions around data governance, infrastructure and the workforce.

Governance, infrastructure and the workforce played a central role in the 2020 action plan and that will continue in the forthcoming 2021 plan, Ted Kaouk, chair of the Federal Chief Data Officers Council, said Thursday. Kaouk didn’t mention when the 2021 plan will be released, but it could come soon — the 2020 action plan was released just before the end of last year.

CDOs are only just beginning to have a seat at the table when it comes to agencies’ organizational strategies and are staying focused on increasing their sway and funding, Kaouk said.

The CDO Council is central to those efforts and is prioritizing improving data visualization and analytics skills among the workforce so employees can leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

“We are actually collaborating on the potential for things like a governmentwide hiring action on data scientists,” Kaouk said during a FedInsider webinar. “And so I think those are some of the opportunities that we’ll have individually and collectively.”

The Federal Data Strategy offers a 10-year roadmap for agencies and their CDOs with annual action plans to set milestones. The 2020 Action Plan contained “very aggressive actions and policies” for standing up data governance boards and assessing the workforce and infrastructure, Kaouk said.

Meanwhile, the CDO Council established working groups to identify data sharing use cases across government and coordinate COVID-19 data during the ongoing pandemic. The latter is helping agencies answer pressing public health, continuity of operations and economic questions and set up dashboards.

“Of course there are some challenges, and in 2021 we will be continuing to analyze key problems and use cases where sharing decision support across agencies will provide the most value,” Kaouk said. “And we’re going to be providing some recommendations on federal-wide infrastructure solutions and some proof of concepts.”

Agencies continue to develop long-term data strategies with the Department of Defense recently releasing its own.

Kaouk’s own Department of Agriculture began appointing assistant CDOs to handle analytics earlier this year and is conducting a broader workforce assessment.

“We’re really excited about having established an enterprise analytics platform that we’re using now,” Kaouk said. “It’s been really helpful during the [pandemic], but we’re going to be using that to modernize our remaining legacy data warehouses at USDA over the next two to three years.”

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CDO Council, chief data officer (CDO), coronavirus, data science, Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Defense (DOD), Federal Data Strategy, Ted Kaouk, workforce
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