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As chief data officers increase in government, so must governance and strategy

On the latest episode of StateScoop’s Priorities podcast, leaders from the public and private sectors say governance and strategy will drive the future of data analytics in state government.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams Associate Publisher & Director of Strategic Initiatives

Jake Williams is currently the Associate Publisher & Director of Strategic Initiatives for StateScoop, based in Washington, D.C., where h...

State and local governments are beefing up their data and analytics practices, and as that transition occurs, decision makers need to look toward governance and strategy as next steps.

On the third episode of the 2017 edition of StateScoop’s Priorities podcast — which chronicles the top 10 priorities of state chief information officers — leaders from two states and the private sector say governance is the logical next step for government data operations.

“The first thing [states] need to do is figure out an information governance policy, and then they also tend to put together a small team of experts,” HPE’s Lewis Carr says. “Then the issue is, I need some storefront, some market, to publicize the approach of sharing data.”

This focus is especially noticeable as states and cities begin to appoint or hire executives to focus exclusively on data. Arkansas announced Monday the hire of its first chief data officer, and earlier this year, New Jersey codified the position of a chief data officer into law.

Elizabeth Rowe, New Jersey’s chief data officer, had been serving in the role for two years prior to the law establishing the position, allowing her and her team to establish a foundation for the role.

“Right now we have a lot of individual agencies at various levels of maturity, but from an enterprise perspective, I think our overall analytics perspective is immature,” Rowe says on Priorities. “But thanks to those recent developments, that will help with standardization of data and processes across the executive branch.”

Despite the increased focus on data across the state government community, the focus area actually declined on the top 10 priority list established by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, sinking from the fourth highest priority in 2016 to the seventh in 2017. Data, however, only first appeared on the list as a top 10 priority in 2016.

On this podcast:

  • Elizabeth Rowe, chief data officer, New Jersey
  • Scott Gregory, chief, California Office of Digital Innovation
  • Lewis Carr, senior director for transformation solutions marketing, HPE
  • Jake Williams, associate publisher and director of strategic initiatives, StateScoop
  • After the establishment of Rowe’s job as chief data officer, as well as a June executive order on open data, New Jersey is formalizing its approach to data.
  • The California Department of Technology is taking a story-forward approach to open data through the creation of its open data portal — — designed to encourage sharing across agencies, Gregory said.
  • Governments need to move from using data “in hindsight, to insight to foresight,” Carr says, as a way to move government toward using predictive analytics to know where government will need to be in the future.
  • With 200,000 employees and the sixth largest economy in the world, it’s particularly challenging to transform California to a data-driven government. But data literacy — or education among executive leadership across levels of government is where Gregory says the state can go to help move the needle.
  • California is building its open data and data analytics efforts on an already-robust geospatial information systems (GIS) organization, Gregory says.

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