Future Plans Included in CDO Council’s First Report to Congress

Published: February 24, 2021

Federal Market AnalysisBig Data

A year into its existence, the Chief Data Officers (CDO) Council reports to Congress and OMB on council activities, accomplishments and future plans to lead the change in leveraging federal data as a strategic asset.

Key Takeaways:

  • Purposes of the CDO Council, mandated by the Evidence Act, include developing government-wide best practices in each segment of the data lifecycle, increasing government data sharing capabilities, improving evidence-based policymaking, and identifying new technology solutions.
  • Within its report to Congress, the council describes first year activities in 2020, such as setting up a governance structure, building intergovernmental council relationships, and collaborating on government-wide data management and utilization opportunities.
  • Moving forward, the CDO Council intends to increase efforts to strategically use data, develop communication activities for stakeholders, all the while implementing finalized and funded FY 2021 projects.

Designated by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act), the federal Chief Data Officers (CDO) Council officially commenced in January 2020. The Evidence Act stipulates that the council establish, “government-wide best practices for the use, protection, dissemination, and generation of data and for promoting data sharing agreements among agencies.” The CDO Council will sunset in 2025, a few years after a GAO evaluation due to Congress in 2023.

Council members include CDOs from each agency, the Council Chair and Vice-Chair, Administrator of the Office of E-Government, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a Small Agencies representative, a CFO Act Agencies representative and Ex Officio members.

With a mission to drive change in the federal data space, council responsibilities include developing a governance structure, providing leadership in the Federal Data Strategy’s annual action plans and strategic roadmap, establishing a community of CDO resources to lead change in federal data practices, and identifying new technology solutions to improve data collection and use.  

In a December 2020 report to Congress and OMB, the CDO Council provided details of its first year activities, as well as forthcoming plans for 2021.

In general, the council established an operating model in its first year, as well as built relationships with other interagency councils, shared best practices and lessons learned, supported CDO’s on an individual level to develop agency data strategies, and collaborated on cross-cutting data initiatives.

The below chart provides a sampling of specific, first year activities accomplished by the council’s six working groups:

Source: CDO Report to Congress and OMB

Touting other projects on its site, the CDO Council also participated in the Subject Matter Experts (SME) Qualification Assessment Hiring Pilot. In conjunction with the U.S. Digital Service, OPM and participating agencies, the council assisted in developing competency-based qualifications for a pool of 50 federal data science positions. The pilot released a cross-agency hiring announcement to fill the positions using a single application. Government-wide hiring managers will then make selections from qualified and vetted pool of applicants for up to one year.

Moving forward, the council plans to ramp up efforts in the strategic use of data, implement communication activities for internal and external stakeholders, continue developing partnerships with intergovernmental councils, and develop sources to support the federal data community.

The Council also finalized a list of FY 2021 projects, with OMB making final selections and funding the projects last October. According to the report, projects include, “developing a framework for sharing decision-support dashboards across agencies; creating a playbook for data skills training programs; investigating innovative approaches to analyzing public comments; and improving the ways we can use data to help manage wildland fire fuels.”