Data-led migrations can help forward-thinking organizations take a major step toward treating their data as a strategic asset. But, according to an official from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for public sector entities, there are some key challenges they need to address to ensure they comply with Federal needs.

Taka Ariga, the chief data scientist (CDS) and director of Innovation Lab at GAO, explained that for GAO, a data-led migration allows for an exciting opportunity based on the proliferating set of data across all facets of government operations and allows for the agency to better meet that oversight function on behalf of Congress.

“Specifically, as we move forward with our modernization efforts, we want to be very intentional and take a very data-centric view of that migration … while still protecting that non-negotiable objective of deep-dive analysis that GAO is known for,” Ariga said during a GovLoop virtual event on Dec. 15.

However, there are three key areas, according to Ariga, that public entities must address for any data-led migration—data governance, data literacy, and authority to operate.

When addressing data governance, Ariga emphasizes the importance of trust in data, stating that biased or inaccurate data leads to questions on the impact of analysis, especially for an agency like GAO.

“What is the point of prediction if that prediction is based on biased data or inappropriate data for the use case we are trying to acquire it for,” Ariga said. “Data governance is more than the appliances we use. It’s also based on the trust we have on that data.”

It is also important for an agency’s workforce to be data literate. It’s crucial, according to Ariga, for a workforce to be data literate and capable of scoping in analytical functions and absorbing the outputs coming out of that analytical function. This is important for GAO as the agency “responds to congressional request to look into accountability issues facing the Federal government,” Ariga said.

Additionally, authority to operate, especially in a public sector entity, addresses the multiple factors that must be implemented as agencies embark on a data-led migration, such as privacy consideration, security sensitivity compliance, and the nuances associated with controlled unclassified information.

“We want to make sure that just because we are going on a data-led migration that we are not intentionally or unintentionally violating the compliance regimes already in place that are the bread butter of what we do as public entities,” Ariga said.

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