Placing the Emphasis on Data in the Federal Data Strategy

In mid-June of 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Draft 2019-2020 Federal Data Strategy Action Plan. The plan outlines a series of steps and principles targeting effective governance, responsibilities and best practices for federal agencies’ use of citizen data. When put into place, these action items will allow government agencies to maximize data, improve security and better serve constituents. 

We applaud the government’s recognition of the importance of their data and the need for a stand-alone data strategy—independent of cloud strategy, hardware vendor, and/or application preferences. After all, data collection, storage and exploitation is at an all-time high and will only continue to grow. With many of the government’s missions and applications already data-driven, it is important to ensure that these new capabilities aren’t built on outdated systems. Instead, the independent data strategy should provide agencies with the flexibility to embrace evolving best-in-breed options—as well as a path forward that anticipates future developments.

The Necessity of a Standalone Data Strategy

Too often the importance of data governance is overlooked as agencies prioritize other needs: IT modernization, cloud migration and solutions providers, among others. In order to ensure ownership, security and control over data, a standalone data strategy is necessary for agencies to not only avoid vendor lock-in, but create a more robust policy that takes hardware, software and containerization into consideration. Moreover, an independent data strategy cements data integrity and consistency even as emerging technologies continuously reshape the IT landscape.

How do agencies create a successful data strategy? Starting with tailoring the plan to a specific agency and its use case is key. The right culture and skill sets are also imperative for implementation. A consistent data strategy will establish standards and promote a more data-savvy and efficient workforce. Furthermore, it will create opportunities for agencies to share data and combine information and forces, while taking full advantage of the benefits that data can afford.

The highly sensitive nature of the government’s data means the stakes are high. There can be no server downtime, and all data must be accounted for and secure. As data and its uses rapidly expand, legacy infrastructure and approaches become obsolete—making it even more important for government IT leaders to examine success stories at other agencies and in industry when executing the Federal Data Strategy. 

As agencies prioritize cloud migration to maximize resources and efficiency, it’s critical to make the most of the data central to cloud success. Leveraging the resources within an independent data strategy will only help the federal government to better utilize data assets to advance their missions, protect and manage data efficiently, and better serve citizens—now and in the future. 

For more insight into why government agencies need a sound data strategy to make the most of cloud, read this paper.

Shaun Bierweiler
VP and GM, Cloudera Government Solutions
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