Federal chief data officers (CDOs) are seeking more guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) when it comes to the Federal Data Strategy, despite deadlines passing for many key deliverables.

In a new survey from the Data Foundation and Grant Thornton, 75 percent of responding Federal CDOs said they had started or completed five of the six agency action items in the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan for CDOs. However, the CDOs sought additional guidance surrounding the strategy “to clarify responsibilities and expectations.”

The Federal Data Strategy is a 10-year roadmap designed to help Federal agencies leverage data for strategic advantage and serve the public. In 2019, OMB released the Federal Data Strategy along with the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan, which included specific action items for agencies to complete within one year. OMB has yet to release another action plan for agencies.

“CDOs requested improved guidance, both from within their agency and from Federal leadership, such as OMB,” the report says. “Within their own agencies, CDOs were looking for agency leadership to weigh in on and support data strategy initiatives, such as data standards, privacy protection, and data policy development.”

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“Outside their agency they were looking for more support in terms of OMB’s next annual action plan for the Federal Data Strategy to help provide a clearer path for their maturity,” the report continues. “CDOs specifically requested clearer guidance on actions in the Federal Data Strategy, even though the timelines had passed for key deliverables. They also requested clarity on the reporting requirements from OMB on the Federal Data Strategy.”

Some CDOs noted that it was helpful to have specific tasks and deadlines for the Federal Data Strategy, but still wished they had clearer guidance and support along the way.

Overall, CDOs also noted they would benefit from additional resources to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

“Fifty percent of CDOs said they ‘somewhat’ have the resources needed to succeed on their goals. Yet only 35 percent of CDOs felt they had ‘a lot’ or ‘completely’ enough resources,” the report says. “Taken together, this suggests that many CDOs are under-resourced to succeed in the Federal government today.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.