Data is the lifeblood of the modern federal enterprise.
Across the multitude of services the government provides and the information it collects, data is a strategic, valuable national asset that when used in a timely and secure manner can lead to economic opportunity, improve citizens’ quality of life, strengthen democracy and promote a more efficient and effective government.
In recent years, as the federal government has pushed to modernize its IT systems and operations, it’s become clear that data underpins all of that. On that journey, federal agencies have aimed to be more strategic in their collection, handling, sharing and use of data — especially as volumes of data produced each day continue to swell exponentially.
The passage of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act in the first days of 2019 served as the culmination of the federal government’s prior strategic efforts around data management and governance. The law called for the creation of chief data officer roles at all federal agencies and, with the support of the 2018 President’s Management Agenda, led to the creation of the Federal Data Strategy in December 2019 with annual action plans.
The goal, according to the strategy’s creators, is to “derive value from data while supporting robust data governance and protecting security, privacy, and confidentiality.”
But really, the federal government’s work to leverage data as a strategic asset is very much still a work in progress. The Federal Data Strategy is a 10-year vision to accelerate the use of data across the federal enterprise, and many of the initial goals are yet to be achieved. And as progress is made, additional, next-order challenges will emerge, like how modern technologies such as the cloud can benefit data storage, management and sharing, and how data can fuel advanced technologies like analytics, automation and artificial intelligence.
In this special report — which will be updated in the weeks following its initial publication — FedScoop will explore the federal government’s recent efforts to better enable data as a strategic asset, the trends that are emerging since the creation of the Federal Data Strategy, the challenges agencies are facing, and what’s on the horizon.