Data-Driven Government: The Role of Chief Data Officers.

Position:News & Numbers

The role of the chief data officer is still developing, along with governments' ability to make the most effective use of its data in setting policy and delivering services. "Data-Driven Government: The Role of Chief Data Officers," a paper from the IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, provides observations about what makes a chief data officer (CDO) successful, how a CDO can have impact, and core competencies for a CDO, along with overall recommendations. This report focuses on data management at the federal level, but there's plenty to learn for all levels of government.

A CDO's success depends on three things. The position must have the full support of senior executives; without it, the CDO lacks credibility and won't be able to create change. Next, "successful CDOs are clear about their scope and can describe their goals succinctly." This helps motivate and focus staff and avoid misunderstandings and "scope creep." Finally, "data teams do best when they tap diverse skills." CDOs need to think carefully about the skills and resources needed to accomplish their established mission.

The report also suggests the ways in which CDOs can have impact in their roles. The value of the role is best illustrated by solving high-priority customer problems...

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