Crystal Ball 2020: What to Expect in Federal Big Data

Published: January 09, 2020

USAFArtificial Intelligence/Machine LearningBig DataDOJPolicy and Legislation

Deltek looks at what’s ahead for the federal big data market space.

In 2020, federal data will continue to be a critical component in driving mission outcomes, particularly in national security, and research and development. Federal big data will also be the foundation for a range of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and high performance computing. Nonetheless, while data is one of the driving forces in modernization, it is just as much a threat factor in the cyber landscape, requiring agencies to take precautions in the management, storage, dissemination and integrity of data.

In 2019, the release of data-related legislation and policies set the foundation for integrating data into agency missions and daily activities. This year, actions called for under those policies will be at full speed, and coupled with agency pressure to pursue interest in areas such as automation, government investment in contractor big data solutions and services will be as important as ever. Here, Deltek looks at some of the developments anticipated to influence federal big data investment in 2020.  

Data Policy and Management

Data usability is the primary goal of the data-related legislation and policies released last year, including the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act) and OMB’s Federal Data Strategy (FDS).

Specifically, the First Year Action Plan under the FDS, which was recently finalized, calls for 20 specific actions that agencies and federal cohorts must take in the next 1 to 12 months to effectively promote, manage and protect the use of data, in order to build a culture of change and enhance efficiency throughout the federal space. Some of these actions include building agency learning agendas, publishing data inventories, developing a federal enterprise repository for data resources and piloting enhanced data management tools for agencies.

Prediction: Given the specific steps outlined in the Evidence Act and the FDS Action Plan, 2020 will see agencies increasingly turning to contractors for training and consulting services to help develop data strategies, learning agendas, open data plans and data assessments in a reformation for data management.  

Chief Data Officers

In 2019, Federal agencies has to comply with a mandate to install Chief Data Officers (CDOs) in their organizations. Additionally, the Evidence Act defined in detail the roles and responsibilities of CDOs at agencies.

Influence of the CDO position is beginning to show at agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Air Force. Last year, the Justice CDO stood up its first enterprise Data Strategy, implemented a data dashboard leveraging advanced analytics and expanded its workforce with additional data scientist positions. Likewise, the Air Force’s Chief Data Office successfully developed and built a visualization platform for installation health assessments, saving hours of intense, manual labor.   

Prediction: Though data policies stop short of thoroughly empowering and resourcing CDO’s, a rise in the reputation of CDOs is expected in 2020. Agencies will realize the criticality of the position in integrating complex datasets in relation to agency mission and administration.

Advanced Analytics and Emerging Technologies

With troves of data continuing to filter into the government, ongoing agency efforts in analytics to sort and process enormous amounts of data will remain. Recognizing this, the Department of Justice procured an enterprise-wide analytics-focused contract vehicle in 2019 to acquire sophisticated solutions in the analysis and integration of large volumes of data from disparate sources across the agency.

Furthermore, agencies are facing increasing pressure to support advances in areas of AI and machine learning (ML), prompting further emphasis on the movement, volume and value of data. For instance, DOD investment in big data and analysis is forecasted to increase, driven by AI and ML, due to the rise and use of data from sensors, complex weapons systems, and in simulation training.  

Prediction: Agencies face challenges specific to organizing, sharing and analyzing data. With the amount of data ingestion expected to continue to rise, agencies may consider new analytics-based acquisition methods, such as the one at Justice, in 2020.

Edge Computing

The Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G technology is also driving the explosion of data, further requiring agencies to dedicate focus to the management, storage and processing of information. As a result, edge computing, the capability to process data at the device level where it is created, proves attractive to a variety of missions such as national security, law enforcement, health care and other field-related work.  

Prediction: Edge computing is poised to expand in 2020 and analytical and cyber solutions will be required at the device level to provide real-time computing and security at the edge.