The Department of Defense (DoD) data strategy already provides an overarching vision, focus areas, guiding principles, essential capabilities, and goals necessary to transform the DoD into a data-centric enterprise. Yet, according to DoD officials, another very necessary element to making this strategy work is clear communication throughout the entire department.

Data transformation efforts throughout the Federal government have sparked great enthusiasm, along with much speculation about how technology and data may revolutionize government efficiency, policy-making, and service delivery.

“This strategy lays out what we are trying to achieve,” said Jenny Sue Ross, senior advisor to the DoD Chief Data Officer (CDO), during an ATARC virtual event on Dec. 9.

“Part of data transformation means aligning our culture, technology, and talent to recognize that data is an enduring and strategic asset that is needed to drive sustainable battlespace advantage and business efficiency,” she said.

Another part of aligning the department is clear communication. This is a holistic strategy, Ross added, which means every person within the DoD is involved, especially leadership. Executive buy-in ensures managed expectations and sets the stage for progress in the department’s data transformation, she said.

When leaders have a clear understanding of what actions are in the works and which are coming down the pipeline, they can then offer guidance to ensure that each member of the department has a clear understanding of the roles they play and the larger picture, Ross said.

A good example of this is seen in the DoD’s current efforts in cataloging data, which is a collaborative effort, and one that is not singularly led by the CDO or data experts within the department. Various agencies within the department have taken ownership of this process, including the armed forces.

“We knew how important it was to understand where our data is located and what data we had at our disposal. Especially when we talk about the need for interoperability of data within the department,” Ross explained.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.