CDOs want more data sharing in next Federal Data Strategy action plan

Improved collaboration between agencies and their CDOs could cement the CDO Council as a major force in federal policy.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
The Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the Office of Management and Budget. (Wikimedia Commons)

Chief data officers want to see more opportunities for data sharing and agency partnerships included in the Federal Data Strategy 2021 Action Plan expected in December.

More than 80 agencies have installed CDOs since the passage of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act was passed in 2019. And the next Federal Data Strategy action plan has the potential to solidify the CDO Council as a major voice informing policymaking at the Office of Management and Budget.

Specific actions could aim to eliminate points of confusion in agency data use agreements and grow the Federal Data Science Training Program that began in September, said Kirsten Dalboe, CDO at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Giving agencies the space to continue to mature their practices over the next year will be really important,” Dalboe said during a discussion with other CDOs at ACT-IAC’s Reimagine Nation ELC 2020. “And I think a big area I’m hoping to see growth in for the Year 2 strategy is really around sharing, the coordination, the community aspect.”


Smaller agencies like FERC have limited resources and need to get strategic about sharing services and recruiting and retaining data scientists, she said.

One of the ways the CDO Council should measure success moving forward is in the ability of agencies to effectively use data collected by one agency to meet their own needs, said Jamal El-Hindi, interim CDO at the Treasury Department.

“If you look at the Evidence Act and you look at the basis for it, that’s fundamental in terms of opening the doors up for appropriate sharing of information that can be used for more than one purpose,” El-Hindi said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking collaboration a step further and developing a joint data and analytics strategy with its biggest agency partner, the Department of Defense. The strategy will focus on customer experience metrics as they relate to interoperability, data sharing, joint analytics and joint policy development, said Kshemendra Paul, CDO of the VA.

Other areas are better handled by the CDO Council, such as replacing identifiers like Social Security Numbers with privacy-enhancing indicators that can link data across agencies, Paul said.


“It doesn’t really work well if we use different approaches,” Paul said. “It works better if we share and use a common approach.”

The Federal Data Strategy team released the 2020 Action Plan in December, providing CDOs with a foundation for data governance and management activities in the strategy’s first year. The strategy is intended to last 10 years, with a new action plan every year.

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