CDO Council issues first report to Congress

A number of member-developed projects advancing innovative data practices are planned for this year.
Ted Kaouk speaks during a fireside chat at the 2020 IT Modernization Summit. (FedScoop)

The Federal Chief Data Officers Council plans to begin member-developed projects advancing innovative data practices this year, according to its first report to Congress.

Projects include developing a framework for sharing decision-support dashboards across agencies, creating a data skills training program playbook, finding new ways to analyze public comments, and using data to better manage wildfire fuels.

The council began considering projects in May, and the Office of Management and Budget made final funding decisions in October.

“By delivering data and analytics solutions to our leaders and field employees, we can have a major impact on how federal agencies more efficiently and effectively serve the public,” Ted Kaouk, who chairs the council and serves as CDO of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wrote in the report. “By implementing data governance, data workforce strategies, and data management best practices, we can enable access to high quality, timely data that will improve evidence-based policymaking.”


The report’s release corresponded with the public unveiling of the council’s new website for sharing updates on priorities, programs and events, as well as engaging on how to improve access and use of federal data.

Monthly meetings will continue in 2021 to support CDOs, still relatively new to their positions, and improve ties with other interagency councils. The council held 11 monthly meetings last year.

“The Council’s first year has been focused on setting up its governance structure, building a CDO community and relationships with other intergovernmental councils and groups, sharing best practices/lessons learned, strategic planning, and supporting CDOs in their implementation of the Federal Data Strategy (FDS) Action Plans,” reads the report.

There’s been no word on when the 2021 Action Plan will be released, the 2020 Action Plan having dropped in December of 2019.

The council’s short-term goals included developing a learning community, demonstrating its strategic value, establishing an operating model and creating an FDS roadmap. The body will continue to encourage data-sharing agreements between agencies and strong privacy protections moving forward.


The report further lays out the council’s tiered structure, membership and six initial working groups:

  • Operations,
  • COVID-19 Data Coordination,
  • Data Skills,
  • Data Sharing,
  • Small Agency Committee, and
  • Chief Financial Officers Act Agency Committee.

The council released the report in accordance with the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act and is set to sunset in 2025, two years after the Government Accountability Office evaluates it, barring renewal.

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