The US federal government is mobilizing in a unified effort to undertake one of the greatest federal transformation initiatives in decades. No, we’re not talking about the federal infrastructure bill to rebuild the country’s roads and bridges. This is the story of the federal government‘s initiative to transform all federal agencies to enable data-driven decision-making in a rapidly changing, changing and competitive global and national economy. It’s a story you might not read on the front pages of The New York Times Where The Wall Street Journal but can be even more consequential and far-reaching in terms of global economic and competitive impact.

Ted Kaouk is the chairman of the Federal Chief Data Officers (CDO) Council, which was launched in 2020. The Federal Chief Data Officers (CDO) Council was created by the Foundations of Evidence-Based Policy Making Act of 2018 (Public Law No. 115-435) and enacted with strong bipartisan support from Congress. Among other things, the Act requires all federal government agencies to appoint a data steward and take steps to modernize their data capabilities with the goal of achieving data-driven decision-making across the federal government. According to December 2020 Federal Data Council Report to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, “The vision of the Federal Chief Data Officer Council is to lead transformational change that improves the nation’s ability to leverage data as a strategic asset.” The report continues, “By providing data and analytics solutions to our leaders and employees in the field, we can have a major impact on how federal agencies serve the public more effectively and efficiently.

While the formal mandate of the Federal CDO Council may seem daunting, the size, scope, and reach of federal data initiatives are vast. As an example, the Federal CDO Council has helped the government address issues related to sharing decision support tools across multiple agencies – on topics ranging from COVID-19 to strengthening and empowering the federal workforce. The Council has been at the forefront of data aggregation, organization and analysis in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, an event that coincided with the creation of the Council. This data was used to create dashboards that helped agency leaders decide when and where it was safe for employees to return to serve the public in person. According to Janice DeGarmo, director of the Office of Strategy and Management Solutions at the State Department, and who was acting CDO in the state, led these activities for the Council: “The efforts of the COVID task force -19 led to the sharing of large data sets. and the creation of data standards on issues such as community transmission that paved the way for risk indicators across the federal government.

Perhaps the most significant federal data initiative relates to federal data ethics standards and policies. According to Dan Morgan, CDO at the Department of Transportation and Vice Chairman of the Federal CDO Council, “The CDO Council has been tasked with partnering with other government data professionals to develop and manage the first federal ethics framework framework – a principles-based approach to guide decisions around data. The framework was originally developed in 2020 and is built to last as technology evolves and data volumes continue to grow. An emerging initiative is the “zero trust policywhich ensures that trusted data is made available only to those who need to see it. Morgan comments, “Data ethics are fundamental to maintaining public trust and must be grounded in the democratic values ​​that guide our nation and our society.

Now in her 3rd full year of existence, the Federal CDO Council includes approximately 90 chief data officers representing a wide range of government agencies. CDO Chairman Kaouk describes the council as a “vibrant learning community” that helps agencies implement the federal data strategy, develop a common roadmap that provides federal agencies with fundamental steps designed to drive change and build capacity that leverages the power of data and the federal government. Workforce. To date, nearly a quarter of federal agencies have developed their own data strategies that align with the federal framework. One such agency is the US Department of Defense, whose data initiatives were described in a 2021 Forbes article. The agency’s efforts continue to grow and evolve, as does the coordination with state, local, tribal and territorial government agencies and data initiatives. This growth in the scope of data efforts is evidenced in part by the website that currently lists 347,169 public datasets under its administration.

One of the opportunities of the federal data mandate, according to Kaouk, is to help agencies use data to ensure that essential services that benefit the public are increasingly “fair, efficient and impactful.” As an example, Kaouk cites work from his time as CDO at the Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he worked to establish business analytics capabilities that integrate data and decision making. informed around key issues that affect every American, from natural resource management to food security to nutrition to climate — activities he describes as “grand strategic challenges.” After taking on a new role as chief data officer for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in October, Kaouk sees similar opportunities: “With data on the nation’s largest workforce, from recruiting to employment to retirement, we have a vision to become a leader in human capital data analytics and digital solutions that will help position the federal government as a model employer.

Within the Department of State, under the direction of CDO Matthew Graviss, the department uses advanced analytics and data management that enable U.S. diplomats to make data-driven decisions intended to advance U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. Some of the key examples include strengthening cybersecurity and promoting global foreign policy initiatives ranging from China to Ukraine. The Department of State’s Center for Analytics (CfA) has been at the forefront of creating data and analytics training. With the help of the CDO Council, they have partnered for data scientist recruitment and recently launched an effort to onboard 50 new data scientists to the State Department. With more than 400 applicants in less than 48 hours, Janice deGarmo considers this a “great sign of success in empowering a data-driven culture.”

As CDO for the Office of Personnel Management, it’s no surprise that Board Chair Kaouk is passionate about the federal government’s data initiatives and the opportunities this work provides for recruiting and upskilling. of the federal government in terms of data. Citing recent government-wide hiring initiatives with the CDO Council and the development of a federal job classification for data scientists, Kaouk highlights the high demand for data professionals in the federal government, noting “Data work in government is cool now. Nowhere can contributions have greater impact, and nowhere can data skills be put to better use. Kaouk concludes with an impassioned call to action: “We know that our competitive advantage in recruiting data talent within the federal government lies in the meaningful difference people can make in the lives of others through the function public. There hasn’t been a better time for data scientists, engineers, analysts and evangelists to join the Federal team.


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