Lawmakers push for chief data officers in every agency in new bill

Paul Ryan (Wikimedia COmmons)

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New bills introduced in both houses of Congress on Wednesday would drive agencies to better use data to measure the effectiveness of their programs and would require a chief data officer at every federal agency.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced identical versions of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act in the House and Senate. The bills follow the recommendations made in September by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking in its final report.

According to a summary of the legislation, it would require agencies to “submit an evidence-building plan” and promote maximum data availability while respecting the importance of and improving privacy standards. It would also establish a committee on data for evidence building, create chief evaluation officer roles at agencies, require every agency to appoint a chief data officer and move agencies to establish data inventories and a greater federal data catalogue.

“As lawmakers, we have to change our approach not only to how we make policy, but how we gauge its results,” Ryan said in a statement. “Ensuring our programs work is just common sense—and what American taxpayers deserve.”

The 15-member commission’s final report in September laid out 22 recommendations for the government to both secure and maintain the privacy of data moving forward, much of which centers on the establishment of a National Secure Data Service within the Department of Commerce.

“This bill will begin to put the recommendations of the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission we created into action by improving how the federal government gathers and uses data and evidence to inform decision-making, as well as ways to strengthen the privacy and increase the transparency around this information,” Murray said.

Co-sponsors of the legislation include House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.; Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.; Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas; and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

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chief data officer, Evidence-based policymaking, House, patty murray, Paul Ryan, Senate