Agencies are now required to have a chief data officer. Do they?

Response to the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act deadline is a mixed bag.
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  • Editor’s Note: This report will be updated occasionally as agencies continue to name and list their CDOs.

Do you know who your agency’s CDO is?

As of July 13, all CFO Act agencies were to have appointed a nonpolitical chief data officer. This requirement of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act included a little wiggle room, however — the law set a separate deadline of Aug. 2 for agencies to post the name of this official publicly and inform the White House Office of Management and Budget of their choice.


So now that the second deadline has come and gone — where do we stand? Agency response to the new requirement, it turns out, is a bit of a mixed bag. Here’s an overview of the current status quo:

Some agencies had a CDO long before the law. Here’s who had an existing chief data officer, and who they are:

  • Department of Agriculture — Ted Kaouk
  • Department of Defense — Michael Conlin
  • Department of Health and Human Services — Jose Arrieta
  • Department of Transportation — Daniel Morgan
  • Department of Veterans Affairs — Kshemendra Paul
  • General Services Administration — Kris Rowley
  • U.S. Agency for International Development — Brandon Pustejovsky

Some agencies have chosen, at least in the interim, to give their CIO (or some other official) an additional title:

  • Department of Homeland Security — Brian Teeple, the agency’s CTO, is also listed as CDO.
  • Department of Justice — DOJ named CIO Joe Klimavicz its CDO in June.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development — A HUD spokesperson told FedScoop that senior adviser to the CFO Sairah Ijaz is filling the role of CDO in an acting capacity. It’s unclear how this impacts her other responsibilities.
  • National Science Foundation — NSF gave CIO Dorothy Aronson two hats by appointing her as CDO as well.
  • Department of Energy — DOE announced that agency chief financial officer Randy Hendrickson will “add to his responsibilities” and act as CDO.
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission — David Nelson, who is also the CIO
  • State Department — Janice DeGarmo, deputy director of State’s Office of Management Strategy & Solutions, is acting CDO.
  • Department of the Interior — Thomas Dabolt was selected as CDO in August. He’s also director of Interior’s Information and Technology Management Division.

A number of agencies responded to a FedScoop query and confirmed that they had named a new official in time for the Aug. 2 deadline:

  • Department of Education Gregory Fortelny
  • Department of CommerceEd Kearns, CDO at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has been tapped for a detail as CDO at Commerce.
  • NASARon Thompson, previously of USDA, is serving as CDO of NASA, a spokesperson told FedScoop.
  • Social Security Administration — Laura Train, who is also listed as associate commissioner of the Office of Data Exchange, Policy Publications, and International Negotiations, is SSA’s CDO, the agency told FedScoop.
  • Office of Personnel Management  — OPM lists Kathleen McGettigan, the agency’s chief management officer, as CDO.
  • Environmental Protection Agency — Richard Allen
  • Department of LaborScott Gibbons
  • Small Business Administration — Emily Knickerbocker

Finally, a lone agency confirmed that it has not chosen a CDO yet:

  • Department of the Treasury — “Until a Chief Data Officer (CDO) is officially named to lead this office, the CDO role and responsibilities are being carried out by a joint management body consisting of the Chief Information Officer (Eric Olson), the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Privacy, Transparency, and Records (Ryan Law),  the Deputy Chief Financial Officer (Carole Banks), the Deputy Performance Improvement Officer (Lenora Stiles), and the Acting Chief Research and Analytics Officer at the Internal Revenue Service (Barry Johnson),” the Treasury website states.

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act also requires that agencies set up a data governance body — the deadline for that is still upcoming on Sept. 30.

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

Written by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier is a technology reporter at FedScoop. She previously worked for DC, NPR and USA Today. If she had a superpower, it'd be navigating foreign metro systems.

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