The Federal Data Strategy Development Team Begins Publishing Proof Points

Published: May 15, 2019

Big DataDHSONRPolicy and Legislation

Data management success stories solving common, applicable data challenges are published on the Federal Data Strategy’s site to serve as examples for replication by federal agencies.

The Federal Data Strategy is expected for release any day. However, the Federal Data Strategy Development Team has already begun to exhibit sample, success stories of data projects to help encourage agency stakeholders to take note and possibly apply some of these same successes to their data difficulties.

The Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset CAP Goal, outlined in last year’s President’s Management Agenda, aims to deliver a comprehensive strategy as the overarching guidance for data management across the federal government. The strategy will be developed in two parallel work streams: the strategy itself and the Data Incubator Project. The latter includes use cases and a playbook for agencies to use for potential replication and lessons learned. The Data Incubator Project will publish both proof points and prototypes to help the public sector.

In April, the team began delivering proof points, with a total of five cases from both federal, and state and local sectors. Defined as a “case study written by data practitioners for fellow practitioners to share insights, build upon successes and avoid pitfalls,” agencies are provided these proof points to keenly follow. The following sample proof points are successful projects that have taken place in the federal government to reconcile certain data challenges:  

Siloed Data: Interrupting the Process to Fix it

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) faced disparate data in its planning, programming, budgeting and execution (PPBE), therefore unable to streamline business processes and conduct cross-functional analysis. Furthermore, ONR’s R&D portfolio was in disarray, not allowing users to track complete lifecycles or be reused by others. In response, ONR chose to hold a data standdown between May to August 2018. The standdown helped bring to light interoperability and inconsistency issues in the data. As a result, ONR instituted an automated solution to generate end-to-end visualization of the R&D portfolio, organizing the data and funneling it through the tool to allow for search and retrieval of data.

Starting from the Bottom Up: A Data Stewardship Tactical Working Group

The Department of Homeland Security is one of the largest and most segregated agencies in the federal department. Understandably so, different levels of data mandates, understanding and operations existed throughout the department. To help solve the issue, DHS gathered all types of data practitioners and eventually formed the Data Stewardship Tactical Working Group (DSTWG). Starting in January 2014 with just a few data practitioners and common data issues, the group grew from the bottom up with participants troubleshooting and supporting each other in a range of challenges. Tracing their progress and successes, the group was able to develop the DHS Standards Tables, datasets across DHS systems that identified enterprise-wide data practices. Since then, the group has helped build numerous solutions in data management for colleagues and expanded its role to every stage of the data lifecycle. Moreover, the group provides classroom training in data governance for employees in all sectors of DHS.

At FCW’s Data and Analytics Summit, Lucas Hitt, Chief of the Communications Division at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, put the concept of proof points simply as “a two page, case study focal piece for practitioners, by practitioners.“ Be sure to keep an eye out on the finalized Federal Data Strategy and Draft Year 1 Action Plan as Hitt hints that they are “soon to be released.“