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2021 Action Plan

Download a PDF of the 2021 Federal Data Strategy Action Plan

Foreword

To account for the changing role of data and meet the needs of democracy, the federal government created a coordinated and integrated Federal Data Strategy (FDS). Leaders from the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Department of Commerce, and Small Business Administration built an interdisciplinary team that worked with private industry, academia, civil servants, and the public to build a robust integrated approach to managing and using data. The result was a strategy that plans for agencies’ use of data for a variety of critical purposes: to generate evidence-based policy, to deliver on mission, to serve the public, and to steward resources. At the same time, the FDS emphasizes the vital need to protect security, privacy, and confidentiality.

The 2021 Action Plan identifies specific actions to be taken in support of the FDS, while also recognizing that 2021 is a transition year for the Executive Branch. Given the timing of the release of this 2021 Action Plan in the context of a transition year and with significant efforts underway across agencies on the administration’s immediate priorities,1 agencies may only begin working on toward the Plan’s milestones before the end of calendar year 2021. Nevertheless, this Action Plan establishes these aspirational milestones in order to encourage agencies to make steady progress on the Plan’s actions and milestones. In doing so, agencies will enhance their ability to use data to achieve their missions and deliver to the American public.

Introduction

On June 4, 2019, the Office of Management and Budget published Memorandum M-19-18, Federal Data Strategy — A Framework for Consistency, which provided a Mission Statement, Principles, and Practices to provide a government-wide vision for how agencies should manage and use federal data by 2030. Specifically, the FDS calls for the federal government to replicate, accelerate, and scale leading practices related to government data, including steps to:

M-19-18 calls for annual government-wide Action Plans to guide federal agency implementation of the FDS, and to “identify and prioritize practice-related steps for a given year, along with target timeframes and responsible entities.”2 This approach balances long-term goals stretching across budgets and administrations with short-term flexibility to adjust for emerging national priorities, new legislation, and data maturity levels, needs, and capabilities that vary across agencies. The 2021 Action Plan was developed in consultation with an interagency, interdisciplinary working group and the Chief Data Officer (CDO) Council Executive Committee.

To achieve the 2030 Vision of the FDS, annual Action Plans follow an incremental maturity ladder that generally moves from: Foundational activities of governance, planning, and infrastructure (~2020-2022), to Enterprise activities of standards, budgeting, and coordination (~2023-2025), to Optimized activities of self-service analytics (~2026-2028), and finally, to Data-Driven activities of proactive evidence-based decisions and automated data improvements (~2029 and forward) (see Figure 1). Figure 1 depicts what the FDS as whole can achieve by 2030 to advance data-driven government. Some agencies (or their components) may be further along the ladder in 2021, and many federal programs and offices are actively engaging in Data-Driven activities today. Agencies that can make progress more quickly than outlined in the strategy are encouraged to continue promoting enhancement opportunities. The goal of the FDS, however, is to ensure that these activities do not happen in an ad hoc way, but rather are integrated into agency culture and become standard practice across all federal government programs.

10 Year Vision

The 2021 Action Plan builds on the outcomes of the 2020 Action Plan and reinforces the activities of data governance, planning, and infrastructure. During 2021, CDOs will continue to grow in their new capacity and lead each agency to fulfill ambitious but achievable goals to better serve the public.

2020 Action Plan Successes and Lessons Learned

Agency Actions

Community of Practice and Shared Solutions Actions

Looking Ahead

The FDS presented in M-19-18 articulates a ten-year vision for how the federal government will accelerate the use of data to deliver on mission, serve the public, and steward resources—while protecting security, privacy, and confidentiality. Fully implementing the 40 practices described in the strategy will require a sustained, iterative, and systematic effort over a ten-year period. The Action Plans will continue to identify priority actions each year and incrementally build on progress annually, capitalizing on the successes of previous efforts, aligning with ongoing federal government programs and policies, incorporating applicable emerging technologies, and complementing new statutory requirements.

The 2021 Action Plan builds on the 2020 Agency Actions and affords agencies the flexibility to complete actions not fully met in 2020, as well as to move forward in their Foundational activities. This year’s Action Plan also focuses on Community of Practice and Shared Solutions Actions that further cross-agency enterprise data maturity and common approaches to data. In this manner, the 2021 Action Plan provides the next step towards completing the Foundational phase of the FDS. The lessons learned from 2020 also create an opportunity to consider how the timing of future Action Plans can better align with existing planning cycles, as implementation of the FDS continues over the ten-year period.

Future annual Action Plans will further develop a coordinated and collaborative approach to federal data stewardship. The newly formed CDO Council will continue to foster information-sharing and cross-agency collaboration among CDOs. Sustained cross-council collaboration will facilitate interagency partnership. Feedback from stakeholders will continue to highlight key topic areas for future annual Action Plans. These plans will build on the progress made by agencies and the CDO Council in advancing the purpose of FDS: to leverage the full value of federal data, in alignment with American values, for mission, service, and the public good.

FDS 2021 Actions by Practice Matrix

Footnotes

  1. The Biden-Harris Administration Immediate Priorities are available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/priorities/

  2. The Federal Data Strategy is available at https://strategy.data.gov/