GSA Seeks Public Comment in Defining Federal Data Roles

Published: September 09, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisBig DataGSAInformation TechnologyIT WorkforceOMB

In response to the First Year Action Plan, GSA and a cohort of data experts issue a draft Data Skills Catalog, which is available for comment through September 16th.

Key Takeaways:

  • In response to Action 13 under the Federal Data Strategy’s First Year Action Plan, GSA and a group of data experts developed the Data Skills Catalog, opening the draft for public comment from September 2nd to September 16th.
  • The Federal Data Strategy Data Skills Catalog, which defines and outlines the skills and responsibilities data roles across agencies, paves the path for agencies to develop training programs for those positions.
  • In an effort to further define and build talent in data management and organization, OMB is establishing the Federal Data Science Training Program to reskill federal employees in data science-related tasks.

The Federal Data Strategy provides the federal government’s framework to manage, organize and utilize data as a strategic asset through established principles, practices and most of all, annual action plans. The 2020 Action Plan provides 20 action-like steps linked with milestones to set the foundation in implementing the Federal Data Strategy throughout federal agencies.

As of August 4, 2020, the plan reports 12 milestones completed among eight action items, with several more actions more than 25% complete. Among those completed is Action 13, which calls on GSA to create a Data Skills Catalog. Accordingly, GSA issued a draft of the catalog, requesting public responses by Wednesday, September 16th. A finalized version of the catalog is anticipated by November 30th.

The Federal Data Strategy’s Draft Data Skills Catalog aims to help “develop competencies for managing data as a strategic asset and making data-driven decisions.” As such, the catalog will directly assist agencies in developing training programs to refine a data-centric workforce.

The catalog is comprised of two sections: Federal Data Lifecycle and Associate Skills (released for review) to provide common definition of skills within the federal data environment, and Federal Learning Opportunities (upcoming) with examples of existing federal data training and courses.

The catalog lists the roles within the federal data space based on the Federal Data Lifecycle defined in the NIST Big Data Reference Architecture. For each of the following roles, the catalog identifies the practices and affiliated skills expected in the federal workforce. The data roles include:

  • Define
  • Coordinate
  • Collect
  • Curate
  • Access
  • Analyze
  • Visualize
  • Disseminate
  • Implement
  • Assess
  • Leadership
  • Domain Experts
  • All Others

Likewise, OMB is also working to define and finesse the skills of the federal data workforce. The CIO Council announced in July the creation of the Federal Data Science Training Program. The 6-month training program will accommodate 60 federal employees across the 24 CFO Act agencies to “learn and apply data science techniques to enhance data gathering, analysis and data visualization-enriched presentations, yielding informed, data driven decisions.” According to FedScoop, the program will commence in mid-September and is based on the data science reskilling pilot launched by the Census Bureau.

The actions by the Federal Data Strategy and OMB reveal the federal government’s emphasis in improving workforce skill for enriched data management, curation and dissemination in agency mission and critical decision-making.  With the federal government taking the above steps, contractors can expect agency needs to provide further training programs to continue cultivating a data-enhanced workforce environment.