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2021 Action Plan

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Agency Actions

The 2021 Action Plan incorporates lessons learned from the 2020 Action Plan and sets the stage for the 2022 Action Plan. The 2020 Action Plan requested that agencies prioritize foundational activities such as capacity assessments and basic governance and infrastructure building. This year, agencies will focus on improving the effectiveness of such foundational governance, planning, and infrastructure activities. In 2021, agencies should consider:

The 2021 Agency Actions build directly on the 2020 Actions to lay a firm agency-wide foundation. While the 2020 Action Plan established a comprehensive roadmap for the FDS, we recognize that agencies entered the 2020 Action Plan at different stages. Many milestones allow for flexibility, given the diversity of agency missions and the maturity gauged during the execution of the 2020 Action Plan. In some cases, agencies should remain focused on producing quality assessments of their data infrastructure, skills, and assets. In other instances, agencies can move forward toward completing those foundational activities. The increased flexibility for 2021 encourages agencies to tackle areas that best serve their mission (e.g., for some agencies it may be data governance, while for others it may be workforce development or data management and interoperability) and learn from each other throughout the process.

Action 1: Gather and Assess Data Identified for Priority Agency Questions

In 2020, as part of developing Interim Learning Agendas, agencies began to consult with key agency leaders, such as CDOs, Evaluation Officers (EOs), and Statistical Officials (SOs), to identify data needed to answer priority agency questions. They also began to develop plans to acquire, access, and analyze that data.

In 2021, agency CDOs and SOs should remain actively involved in their agency’s strategic planning activities and in the development of Learning Agendas, led by EOs, as outlined in OMB Memorandum M-19-23, Phase 1 Implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018: Learning Agendas, Personnel, and Planning Guidance (July 10, 2019).1 CDOs, EOs, and SOs should also begin to assess the quality of the data identified in Learning Agendas.

Agencies are encouraged to build upon their existing frameworks2 in assessing the quality of the data needed to answer Learning Agenda questions. In accordance with the concept of “fitness for purpose,”3 information destined for a higher-impact purpose must be held to higher standards of quality.4 The systematic application of the “fitness for purpose” concept will enable appropriate data to answer priority Learning Agenda questions and should lead to strategic quality improvements in existing assets as well as inform new data collection processes. Agencies should also consider secondary uses of data, while protecting privacy and confidentiality, as part of this assessment.

After assessing the quality and security of the data assets to be used in pursuit of their Learning Agenda goals, CFO Act agencies should include these data assets in their comprehensive data inventories, and indicate within their inventory which Learning Agenda questions particular assets support.

Milestone Measurement Reporting Mechanism Target Date Required or Encouraged
1.1 Assess data assets for fitness of purpose, in support of Learning Agenda items Progress Progress Reporting Tool Measure Annually Required for CFO Act Agencies only, encouraged for non-CFO Act agencies
1.2 Acquire or access data needed to answer priority questions Progress Progress Reporting Tool Measured Annually Required for CFO Act Agencies only, encouraged for non-CFO Act agencies
1.3 Indicate which data assets support Learning Agenda questions in comprehensive data inventory Progress Progress Reporting Tool Measured Annually Required for CFO Act Agencies only, encouraged for all non-CFO agencies

Action 2: Mature Data Governance

In 2020, agencies designated CDOs, formed Data Governance Bodies, and posted key governance materials publicly on their websites. Many agencies dedicated full-time employees to support of their data-governance processes.

In 2021, agencies should continue to prioritize the data-governance planning efforts encouraged in the 2020 Action Plan. In addition, agencies should identify and document priority goals for their Data Governance Body to accomplish over each of the next three years. The priority goals provide an overview of each agency’s data maturity and accomplishments during FY 2020, as well as the data maturity gaps the agency plans to address in fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023. In setting those goals, agencies create a customized data-governance plan that demonstrates their progress over time in each of the FDS Practices. Agency plans should include specific initiatives to improve the current state of data management (e.g., data quality or metadata management), data use (e.g., new data access mechanisms or new uses of existing data assets), and agency priority projects.

Milestone Measurement Reporting Mechanism Target Date Required or Encouraged
2.1 Data Governance Bodies document priority goals for calendar years 2021, 2022, and 2023 respectively Completion Progress Reporting Tool & Post to Agency/data web page December 31, 2021 Required for all agencies

Action 3: Data and Infrastructure Maturity

In 2020, agencies selected an operational maturity assessment model for their data and data infrastructure and worked to conduct the initial assessment. Some agencies began building a data strategy or road map, established plans for data assets and infrastructure capital planning, and adopted agency master data-management programs. Many agencies are considering new capabilities and approaches for data assets and infrastructure to address capability gaps identified in their data strategy.

In 2021, building on the prior year activities, agencies should use their data strategy and the outcomes of the operational maturity assessment in their strategic planning processes. They should analyze and document data asset and infrastructure requirements that support mission functions and the FDS. Where appropriate, agencies are encouraged to develop business-case analyses for enterprise-wide data infrastructure funding and identify which cross-agency projects or shared data services would be most impactful. Business cases should include a risk-rated return-on-investment analysis that considers, at a minimum: mission performance measures; reduced cost; increased quality, speed, flexibility, or transparency; and improved customer experience and satisfaction. Agencies should ensure appropriate resources are identified in future-year budget requests to support enterprise data assets and infrastructure. They should also clearly identify enterprise data infrastructure investments in budget year 2023 IT Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) products or in their budget submissions.

Milestone Measurement Reporting Mechanism Target Date Required or Encouraged
3.1 Begin implementing enterprise data asset and infrastructure capital plans developed in 2020 Progress Progress Reporting Tool & FY2023 Budget Submission December 31, 2021 Required for all agencies
3.2 Agency budget submissions should include data asset and infrastructure needs Completion FY 2023 Budget Submission As required by the FY2023 budget timeline Required for all agencies

Action 4: Increase Staff Data Skills

The 2020 Action Plan set goals for all agencies to perform an assessment of staff data literacy skills, to conduct a gap analysis between existing and agency-required skills, and to develop a performance plan to close the identified gaps. In 2021, agencies should prioritize completing assessments and performance plans, as directed in the 2020 Action Plan, and should consider following the best practices of agencies that have already successfully achieved these milestones. Agencies may find it useful to include the data skills gap analysis as part of the Capacity Assessment for Research, Evaluation, Statistics, and Other Analysis required by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.

Additionally, in 2021, agencies should begin work to fill immediate skills gaps by improving the data literacy of all employees, increasing professional development opportunities, and planning to hire staff with the requisite data skills. The Office of Personnel Management intends to issue a new Data Scientist job series in 2021 to facilitate the hiring of candidates with the appropriate skillsets. By the end of 2022, agencies should have a solid foundation throughout their workforce, including a minimum level of data literacy among all staff and a sufficient accumulation of data skills to allow for effective performance of all aspects of the data lifecycle.

Milestone Measurement Reporting Mechanism Target Date Required or Encouraged
4.1 Incorporate data skills training and rotational experiences into agency professional development offerings Completion Progress Reporting Tool December 31, 2021 Required for CFO Act agencies only, encouraged for non-CFO Act agencies
4.2 Establish 2022 workforce goals and specify how they will be met (e.g. training or hiring goals), using data skills gap analysis and performance plans Progress Progress Reporting Tool December 31, 2021 Required for CFO Act agencies, encouraged for non-CFO Act agencies

Action 5: Publish Agency Open Data Plans

In 2021, agencies should continue activities from the 2020 Action Plan, including the identification of priority data assets for open data plans in accordance with the requirements of the Evidence Act and with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget.

Milestone Measurement Reporting Mechanism Target Date Required or Encouraged
5.1 Publish an Open Data Plan that identifies specific priority data assets, including assets that support COVID-19 response and AI R&D Completion Information Resource Management (IRM) Strategic Plans and agency digital strategy web page Annually in accordance with OMB Guidance Required for all agencies

Action 6: Improve Data Inventories

In 2021, agencies should continue to take necessary steps to include all required data assets in their comprehensive data inventories and to update their inventories as applicable. For some small agencies, this may mean taking further steps to develop an inventory and ensure its inclusion on Data.gov. For more mature agencies with an established inventory, CDOs may focus on ensuring that their inventories provide a clear and comprehensive understanding of agency data assets. Use of appropriate metadata schema may aid in that effort.5

Milestone Measurement Reporting Mechanism Target Date Required or Encouraged
6.1 Update comprehensive public data inventory on data.gov Completion Agency public data.json APIs6 & Progress Reporting Tool Quarterly Required for all agencies

Footnotes

  1. Available at whitehouse.gov

  2. Pursuant to OMB’s Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of lnformation Disseminated by Federal Agencies, 67 Fed. Reg. 8452 (February 22, 2002), agencies have already developed agency-specific information quality guidelines for pre-dissemination review. OMB’s Guidelines are available at federalregister.gov

  3. OMB Memorandum M-19-15, Improving Implementation of the Information Quality Act 3 (April 24, 2019), available at whitehouse.gov

  4. The Framework for Data Quality is available at resources.data.gov

  5. See resources.data.gov

  6. See data.gov/labs