Federal Data Strategy finally gets Year 2 Action Plan

Agencies may not begin work on the delayed 2021 Action Plan until the end of the year.
data strategy
(Getty Images)

The Federal Chief Data Officers Council released the long-awaited, second action plan for the Federal Data Strategy, intending to build on progress agencies made implementing the original’s data governance, planning and infrastructure actions.

Agencies haven’t completed all of the actions in the 2020 Action Plan, which was released in December 2019, and may not begin work on the delayed 2021 Action Plan until year’s end, according to its forward.

The plan blames 2021 being a presidential transition year for its late release on Friday, as well as more immediate priorities of the Biden administration.

“Nevertheless, this action plan establishes these aspirational milestones in order to encourage agencies to make steady progress on the plan’s actions and milestones,” reads the document. “In doing so, agencies will enhance their ability to use data to achieve their missions and deliver to the American public.”


The Office of Management and Budget did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

Actions 1 through 6 in the 2021 Action Plan directly correspond to those of its predecessor.

The first action requires Chief Financial Officers Act agencies and encourages all others to gather and assess data identified for priority agency questions. A total of 17 CFO Act agencies had identified that data by the original action plan’s deadline of Sept. 30, 2020.

Action 2 requires all agencies to mature data governance, after 36 agencies documented the authorities of their data governance bodies that the original plan had them establish by the Sept. 30, 2020 deadline.

The third action has all agencies see to data and infrastructure maturity after 32 agencies held data maturity assessment trainings by the original plan’s Sept. 30, 2020 deadline.


Action 4 requires CFO Act agencies and encourages all others to increase staff data skills, after only six agencies developed a performance plan to do so by the original plan’s Dec. 31 deadline.

The fifth action requires all agencies to publish open data plans, after the original plan required them to identify their priority data assets to that end. Agency plans were put on hold pending open data guidance from OMB.

Action 6 requires all agencies to improve their data inventories, which the original plan required them to publish and update. A total of 33 agencies updated their inventories by the Dec. 31 deadline, but updating them to conform to standard metadata is pending guidance from OMB and the General Services Administration.

Other 2021 Action Plan actions that build of those of the original plan include Action 7, requiring all agencies to develop a robust set of AI use cases and workforce expertise, and Action 11, requiring the Federal Geographic Data Committee to identify investment areas and improve coordination with interagency councils.

The 2021 Action Plan further requires the Federal CDO Council to demonstrate a governmentwide dashboard prototype to other interagency councils, document governmentwide infrastructure solution and funding recommendations, validate data skills workforce development use cases, publish a data skills workforce development playbook, and develop a wildland fuels modernization architecture and roadmap.


Half of the 2020 Action Plan’s 20 actions were completed on time.

Among them the Federal CDO Council and OMB Federal Data Policy Committee were launched; separate repositories for federal enterprise data resources and standards were developed; and a curated data skills catalog, data ethics framework and data protection toolkit were released. A one-stop standard research application and an automated tool for information collection reviews were also piloted.

Only 10 of 40 Federal Data Strategy (FDS) practices expected to be implemented by 2030 go unaddressed by the 2021 Action Plan. They include things like using data to increase accountability, protecting data integrity, aligning agreements with data management requirements, reviewing data for disclosure risk, and leveraging buying power.

“The 2021 Action Plan builds on the 2020 agency actions and affords agencies the flexibility to complete actions not fully met in 2020, as well as to move forward in their foundational activities,” reads the document. “This year’s action plan also focuses on community of practice and shared solutions actions that further cross-agency enterprise data maturity and common
approaches to data.”

Dave Nyczepir

Written by Dave Nyczepir

Dave Nyczepir is a technology reporter for FedScoop. He was previously the news editor for Route Fifty and, before that, the education reporter for The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, California. He covered the 2012 campaign cycle as the staff writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine and Maryland’s 2012 legislative session as the politics reporter for Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his master’s of journalism.

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