The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report that four Federal agencies it examined are making progress on establishing data governance policies, but still have more work to do on some key milestones including assessing data and infrastructure maturity, and staff data literacy.

GAO reviewed the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Commerce, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and determined that each had made progress in establishing data governance policies. All four agencies, for instance, have designated Chief Data Officers (CDO), and USDA, Commerce, and NSF “established data governance bodies and published information about them on their websites.”

Recommendations to Agencies

The government watchdog agency made a total of nine recommendations for the four agencies “to address milestones in the 2020 Action Plan and to ensure their data quality plans are consistent with Office of Management and Budget guidance.”

The four agencies examined by GAO “generally” agreed with the nine recommendations.

Each of the four agencies received a recommendation for its CDO to perform data literacy and data skills assessments of current staff, conduct a gap analysis of the staff skills and skills required, and establish a baseline performance plan to close any data skills gaps.

For the CDOs of HUD and Commerce, GAO recommended that they aggregate bureau-level assessments to conduct and document the outcome of an initial data maturity assessment, and to direct agency CFOs to develop and include a description of controls for the Award Description data element in the net data quality plan update.

GAO further recommended that HUD publish all data governance materials on its website, and that its CDO “select an operational maturity assessment model for data and data-related infrastructure and conduct and document the outcome of an initial data maturity assessment.”

CDO Council

Additionally, GAO made one recommendation to the CDO Council “to develop additional mechanisms for monitoring progress toward establishing goals” and reporting on progress toward short and long-term goals.  The council, GAO, said, neither agreed nor disagreed with that recommendation.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.