Development of the Federal Data Strategy Begins

Published: July 25, 2018

Big DataInformation TechnologyPolicy and Legislation

The group leading the creation of the Federal Data Strategy has released 10 draft principles and calls for use cases and best practices that will be included in the government’s future data plan.

What and Why?

The release of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) ignited actions in various areas of reform within the federal government, particularly in the management and use of data. One of the key drivers of transformation within the PMA, alongside IT modernization and workforce, is “Data, Accountability, and Transparency.” Within that driver is a call to create a Federal Data Strategy. The goal of the strategy is threefold, “better govern and leverage the Federal Government’s data; enable government data to be accessible and useful for the American public, businesses, and researchers; improve the use of data for decision-making and accountability for the Federal Government, including for policy-making, innovation, oversight, and learning.”

The Federal Data Strategy will encompass four key components:

  1. Enterprise Data Governance – data policies that establish specifications for data privacy, security and compliance.
  2. Access, Use and Augmentation – procedures that will make data available quickly, outline the extent of data sharing with the public and seek new technologies to maneuver sensitive data without hindering security.
  3. Decision Making and Accountability – improve the use of data to drive quality decision-making capabilities in government, foster research to steer future policymaking and provide public transparency and accountability.
  4. Commercialization, Innovation and Public Use – coordinate the use of government data assets for use by private, other government and scientific sectors leading to innovative solutions.

The plan seeks to target several current issues under each component such as implementing a framework for disparate federal data initiatives and providing consistent governance processes to implement and upkeep established government-wide data standards, particularly in areas of security. Moreover, the Federal Data Strategy aims to streamline policies and procedures in data management, to the extent possible, particularly in regards to data sharing and providing data assets for commercialization and other public uses.


The development of the Federal Data Strategy is led by Pradeep Belur, Chief of Staff at the Small Business Administration; Karen Dunn Kelley, Under Secretary of Economic Affairs and Acting Deputy Secretary at the Department of Commerce; Jack Wilmer, Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and IT Modernization at the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Federal Chief Information Officer, Suzette Kent. The team also includes the participation of various federal data communities and stakeholders such as the Census Bureau,, the National Archives, 18F and the U.S. Digital Service.


The strategy will be formed around the four key components with draft materials released every quarter for public review and feedback.  Formation of the plan will be done through two parallel work streams, one devoted to draft principles and best practices and the other, for use cases. Recently, the team released a draft of ten principles on July 10, 2018:

  1. Exercise Responsibility: Practice effective data stewardship and governance by maintaining modern data security practices, protecting individual privacy, and maintaining promised confidentiality.
  2. Uphold Ethics: Consider, monitor, and assess the implications of federal data practices for the public and provide sufficient checks and balances to protect and serve the public interest.
  3. Promote Transparency: Articulate purposes for acquiring, using, and disseminating data and comprehensively document processes and products to inform data users.
  4. Integrate Intentionality: Create, acquire, use, and disseminate data deliberately and thoughtfully, considering quality, consistency, privacy, value, reuse, and interoperability from the start.
  5. Ensure Relevance: Validate that data are high quality, useful, understandable, timely, and needed.
  6. Create Value: Coordinate and prioritize data needs and uses, harness data from multiple sources, and acquire new data only when necessary.
  7. Demonstrate Responsiveness: Improve data sharing and access with ongoing input from users and other stakeholders.
  8. Prioritize Best Practices: Model, assess, and continuously update best practices throughout the data lifecycle.
  9. Invest in Learning: Promote a culture of continuous and collaborative learning with data and about data.
  10. Practice Accountability: Audit data practices, document and learn from results, and make changes as needed based on findings.


A final Federal Data Strategy is anticipated by April 2019, complete with a first year action plan. Feedback for the above set of principles is due no later than July 27, 2018 with a final set of principles expected by October 2018. The team's FY2018 Q2 Action Plan provides a full timeline of events for the strategy's formation: