A Primer on the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan

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Federal Data Strategy

A Primer on the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan

Data Coalition members and staff from the White House Office of Management and Budget met in January to discuss the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan. The Federal Data Strategy is built on 10 principles and 40 practices federal agencies will be expected to adopt over the next decade. As a whole, the 2020 actions in the plan will be foundational for improvements in data stewardship, capacity-building, and data quality over the next year. 

For 2020, the strategy includes 20 actions with accompanying milestones for the American public to hold agencies accountable for progress. The action steps are divided into three categories: agency actions that outline expectations for all agencies, community of practice actions that establish steps for groups of agencies, and shared solutions actions that include pilot projects, which, if successful, could provide benefits across government. 

Agency Actions 

Many of the agency actions are legal requirements from the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act. The agency actions focus on developing learning agendas, establishing a data governance body, producing an assessment of staff data skills, and publishing a comprehensive data inventory for each agency. 

Community of Practice Actions 

Action items that focus on larger communities of practice, or groups of agencies, are those that relate to requirements in recently enacted legislation. Work to improve financial management data standards builds on the 2014 DATA  Act as well as the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreement Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2019. One action focuses on launching the new Chief Data Officer Council, which convened for the first time in early 2020 with more than 60 chief data officers from across government. Other community of practice action include artificial intelligence research and development, and the integration of geospatial data practices through the Federal Geographic Data Committee. This long-standing federal committee coordinates across industry, government, and academia to improve geospatial data infrastructure. 

Shared Solutions Actions 

The 2020 Action Plan rounds out with a section dedicated to Shared Solutions Actions, action steps 11-20. The final 10 action steps identify existing resources, pilot projects, and gaps where frameworks can better guide agency efforts to leverage data as a strategic asset. For example, one action is to establish a front door for researchers outside government to apply for access to government datasets. An early version of the Research Data Gov platform is now available from a third-party to support this action. Other actions focus on using existing government resources to improve meta-data for data inventories, resources for data protection and maturity assessment, and a framework for data ethics.  

Steady progress in implementing the Federal Data Strategy and the first year’s action plan is expected to lead to improved access, quality, and usability for government data. Progress for the action steps will be posted publicly to ensure agencies make rapid progress in achieving early wins for the Federal Data Strategy. Throughout 2020, stakeholders can continue to support implementation and provide feedback to agencies about strategies each pursues on the actions. This work naturally all builds in coming months as preparations begin in earnest for the next year’s action plan.