Federal CIO Suzette Kent said today she is “hopeful” that the Federal Data Strategy and guidance on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act will be released “in the next 30 days” by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Speaking at AFCEA’s Homeland Security Conference today, Kent noted that guidance on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act will include support for agencies that have yet to establish the role of chief data officer (CDO’s), definitions of the CDO’s duties, and how the CDO works with an agency’s CIO, privacy officer, and evidence teams.

“The protection of data is critical, but how we use the data is the side-by-side sister with how we think about operating in a modern environment,” she said.

As a refresher, the Federal Data Strategy – part of the President’s Management Agenda released a year ago – will offer guidance to agencies on how to collect, clean, and use their datasets to support better agency performance. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, signed into law in January, requires CFO Act agencies to appoint a CDO and work to make datasets as open to the public as possible. The bill also establishes a Federal CDO Council to support data efforts government-wide.

Kent’s preview of efforts for 2019 echoed many of the Act’s mandates.

“A couple of things that will be the top priorities … creation of data teams, chief data officers, councils and specific initiatives to build skills, like data modeling, architecture, and analysis. We will focus on inventory of our data … if anyone hasn’t spent time looking at our numerous Federal datasets available, please do. It’s phenomenal, but we have an opportunity to make it better,” she said.

Kent also mentioned the need for better data protection tools that can protect critical elements and allow government to make more datasets available.

“Right now, we have a pretty binary system – you want the data? Here it is, download it. In some cases, there’s components where because we can’t separate that, we can’t make it available,” she noted.

She also highlighted an effort to clear up internal data sharing rules, which has been a struggle for agency leaders looking to make better decisions.

“I talked to some agencies who go buy Federal data from external data sources … we have opportunities to streamline that process,” she said.

Outside of the Federal government’s data efforts, observers can expect to see automation efforts “at every agency,” Kent noted.

“Our priorities for defining the policy guardrails for how we use automated technologies in real world application at every agency are not just a priority for 2019, but it is a mandate for how we protect our Federal enterprise and our nation.”

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MeriTalk Staff