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2020 Action Plan

The Federal Data Strategy provides a common set of data principles and best practices in implementing data innovations that drive more value for the public. Annual action plans will identify and prioritize practice-related steps for a given year, along with targeted timeframes and responsible entities.

The 2020 Action Plan establishes a solid foundation that will support implementation of the strategy over the next decade. Specifically, the plan identifies initial actions for agencies that are essential for establishing processes, building capacity, and aligning existing efforts to better leverage data as a strategic asset.

In addition, the 2020 Action Plan includes a series of pilot projects already underway at individual agencies and a set of government-wide efforts designed to support all agencies through the development of tools and resources.

Annual Action Plans are developed iteratively with stakeholder feedback and input incorporated along the way. If you’d like to be notified about updates or ways to be involved, please sign up for our news updates.

Download PDF - Final Federal Data Strategy & 2020 Action Plan

Download PDF - Draft 2019-2020 Action Plan

Download PDF - Revisions Based on Feedback


Action Plan Categories


Agency Actions

Six Agency Actions are identified as foundational steps to support agencies in establishing plans, processes, and priorities for better managing data assets while considering how the agency’s data assets could be leveraged to advance the agency’s mission. Because agencies have different levels of maturity in their current management and use of data, agencies are expected to have different starting points for executing the six Agency Actions. Each agency should first establish a baseline for each action by assessing the agency’s current status, and then develop and implement a plan to fully achieve each action over the course of the next year. The strategy is supported by tools and resources to aid in the execution of the Agency Actions. Resources will be posted to the repository, Federal Enterprise Data Resources, at throughout the course of the year.

Many of the Agency Actions build on and complement efforts that are already underway in response to other requirements or laws. The graphic below maps each of the six Agency Actions to a set of relevant laws and guidance documents. While future Action Plans will make similar connections between Agency Actions and relevant laws and requirements, all Agency Actions are designed to support agencies in leveraging their data assets.

Agency-Specific Actions

Action 1: Identify Data Needs to Answer Priority Agency Questions

By September 2020, all agencies will take initial steps to identify the data needed to answer priority questions of interest to the agency.1

For the past several years through the budget formulation process2,OMB has encouraged agencies to develop multi-year learning agendas. A multi-year learning agenda enables agencies to systematically identify the most critical short- and long-term questions relevant to the programs, policies, and regulations of an agency. The Evidence Act now requires the development of learning agendas3, directing CFO Act agencies to generate a multi-year learning agenda in conjunction with their strategic plans. Agencies develop learning agendas in consultation with both internal and external stakeholders, using the process to generate and organize priority agency questions that can be pursued through activities that include statistics, program evaluation, research, performance management, and policy analysis. Adopting this approach of identifying priority agency questions at the outset helps to establish a process through which an agency can allocate its statistical, performance management, research and evaluation efforts, and funding to the most critical questions that face the agency.

This approach represents a paradigm shift in how agencies leverage data assets. Rather than constraining research based on data, the learning agenda process ensures that a research agenda starts with the priority agency questions. Once the priority agency questions have been identified, then the agency must contemplate what data are needed to answer the priority agency questions. This critical next step is also explicitly required under the Evidence Act, which states that learning agendas must include “a list of data the agency intends to collect, use, or acquire to facilitate the use of evidence in policymaking.”4 Exhibit 6 maps the process by which an agency might approach identifying data needs to answer priority agency questions.

Data Collection Tree

The data required to answer a priority agency question might already exist — either in that agency, at another agency, or within a non-Federal entity (e.g., private firm or state/local government). The development and expansion of high-quality data inventories and data catalogs across agencies, as required by the Evidence Act and supported by Actions 6 and 17, will increase agencies’ capacity to determine whether the data required to answer priority agency questions is already collected and maintained within the Federal Government. Under circumstances where the data needed already exist, the next step would be to either directly access the data holdings, or to develop an acquisition strategy to access the needed data. Alternatively, the data required might not exist or might not be accessible because of legal or other barriers, and a new collection effort may be justified. Many agencies already have processes and procedures by which they assess the availability of data to answer priority agency questions, even if the agency does not yet have a formalized learning agenda in place.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Reporting Mechanism Required or Encouraged
Consult with key agency leaders, such as Chief Data Officers, Evaluation Officers and Statistical Officials to identify data needed to answer priority agency questions Completion September 30, 2020 Interim Learning Agenda or FY 2022 Budget Submission Required for CFO Act Agencies only
Encouraged for all agencies
(see OMB M-19-23)
Identify data needs for answering priority questions in the interim learning agenda Completion September 30, 2020 Interim Learning Agenda or FY 2022 Budget Submission Required for CFO Act Agencies only
Encouraged for all agencies
(see OMB M-19-23)
Develop a plan to engage the stakeholders needed to access or acquire the data needed to answer priority questions Completion September 30, 2020 Interim Learning Agenda or FY 2022 Budget Submission Required for CFO Act Agencies only
Encouraged for all agencies
(see OMB M-19-23)

Action 2: Constitute a Diverse Data Governance Body

All agencies were required by M-19-23 to establish an inclusive and empowered Data Governance Body (DGB) by September 30, 2019, to be chaired by the Chief Data Officer, with participation from relevant senior-level staff in agency business units, data functions, and financial management.

By January 2020, all agencies will publish documentation related to the DGB (e.g., membership, charter, meeting cadence, and minutes) on their agency data web page (at https://[agency].gov/data) and by November 2020, all agencies will have begun enterprise-wide data governance activities such as capital planning for enterprise data assets and infrastructure, emerging priority data governance areas such as preparing data for use in artificial intelligence, and an agency data strategy or road map, or master data management program.

The DGB should use data maturity models to assess agency capabilities (see Action 3: Assess Data and Related Infrastructure Maturity), and should also seek broad agency input before recommending data investment priorities. The DGB membership should be updated as needed.

Agencies may refer to A Playbook in Support of the Federal Data Strategy: Getting Started on Prioritizing Data Governance and Assessing Maturity for guidance and support in accomplishing this action as well as Action 3.5

Milestone Measurement Target Date Reporting Mechanism Required or Encouraged
Publish agency data governance materials (membership, charter, meeting cadence) on [agency].gov/data web page Completion January 31, 2020 Post to agency/data web page Required for all agencies
After you complete your assessment of current staff data skills and literacy (see Action 3), dedicate staff to support DGB Number of FTEs dedicated September 30, 2020 Encouraged for all agencies
Document how the DGB receives its authority Completion September 30, 2020 Encouraged for all agencies
Put in place a data strategy or road map Completion 1 activity per quarter, any order encouraged of all agencies & in agency Information Resource Management Strategic Plan Encouraged for all agencies
Develop a plan for capital planning for enterprise data assets and infrastructure Completion (See Above) (See Above) Encouraged for all agencies
Adopt a master data management program Completion (See Above) (See Above) Encouraged for all agencies

By September 2020, all agencies will should conduct an initial maturity assessment focusing on data and related data infrastructure (e.g., organizational structures and knowledge bases, policies) to set a baseline for future improvements.

Maturity assessments allow an organization to evaluate itself against documented best practices, determine gaps, and identify priority areas for improvement. A maturity assessment analyzes all aspects of agency policies, procedures, and operations related to data and data infrastructure, including data governance, data management, data culture, data systems and tools, data analytics, staff skills and capacity, resource capacity, and compliance with law and policy. The results of a maturity assessment feed into the data governance and management processes to inform investment decisions and to prioritize subsequent actions. A maturity assessment should be proactively communicated and explained to employees and repeated periodically, as determined by the agency, to measure progress and prioritize next steps.

The maturity model used to conduct the maturity assessment should be chosen by the DGB established under Action 2. This assessment will identify readiness to meet other requirements of the strategy and related legal requirements and can be used to make investment decisions and to prioritize subsequent actions. Agencies may refer to A Playbook in Support of the Federal Data Strategy: Getting Started on Prioritizing Data Governance and Assessing Maturity for guidance and support in accomplishing this action as well as Action 2.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Reporting Mechanism Required or Encouraged
Select an operational maturity assessment model for data and data infrastructure Completion June 30, 2020 Required for all agencies
Agency Chief Data Officer and other senior-level staff participate in any training or technical assistance related to maturity assessments Number of people attended training September 30, 2020 Encouraged for all agencies
Conduct and document the outcome of the initial data maturity assessment Completion September 30, 2020 Encouraged for all agencies

Action 4: Identify Opportunities to Increase Staff Data Skills

By June 2020, all CFO Act agencies will have performed a capacity assessment to assess the coverage, quality, methods, effectiveness, of current staff data literacy and data skills. These assessments may be further leveraged by agencies to identify critical data skills, assess their staffs’ capacities for those skills, identify any gaps, and take actions to ensure that their Federal workforces are well-prepared to support evidence-building activities pursuant to M-19-23 and the Evidence Act.

The staff data skills assessment should align with, and be a part of, ongoing human capital management efforts designed to ensure agencies have skills and competencies needed to effectively accomplish agency mission. This alignment is important since achieving parity between an agency’s data skill needs and its workforce capacity requires repeating this process over time. The assessment has four major components:

  1. Identify critical data skills needed for the agency
  2. Assess the current staff capacity for those data skills
  3. Perform a data skills gap analysis to prioritize the agency’s needs
  4. Identify and execute approaches to fill those needs

The identification of critical data skills will naturally be informed by the determination of agency priority questions, including those gathered during the development of the learning agenda (see Action 1) and will be addressed in the agency maturity assessment (Action 3). Thoughtful consideration should also be given to identifying a minimum level of data literacy among all staff, including for those performing roles not traditionally considered data related. The agency should assess the data skills possessed by the current workforce and seek to understand data literacy rates among its staff. The gap analysis should determine how much more of each critical skill is required among staff and facilitate a prioritization of needed skills relative to available resources. Options for increasing staff skills capacity may include new analysis or other software tools, easy-to-use dashboards, additional training and educational opportunities, on-the-job rotational learning experiences, participation in data-related communities of practice, and introducing hiring and retention strategies to address gaps.

Note: This action can also serve as one input to the capacity assessment required by CFO Act agencies under the Evidence Act, in coordination with Evaluation Officers.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Reporting Mechanism Required or Encouraged
Perform an assessment of current staff data literacy and data skills Completion June 30, 2020 Required for CFO Act Agencies only
Encouraged for all agencies
Conduct a gap analysis between the current staff’s skills and the skills the agency requires Completion September 30, 2020 Required for CFO Act Agencies only
Encouraged for all agencies
Based on the assessment, establish a baseline and develop a performance plan to close the identified data skills and literacy gaps Completion December 31, 2020 Required for CFO Act Agencies only
Encouraged for all agencies

Action 5: Identify Priority Data Assets for Agency Open Data Plans

By December 2020, all agencies will identify their initial list of priority data assets for agency open data plans.6 This list will describe data assets that the agency considers especially valuable to the public interest and therefore intends to make available as open government data. Agency open data plans will include (1) processes and procedures that require data collection mechanisms created on or after January 13, 2019, facilitate open formats, and facilitate collaboration with non-Government entities (including businesses), researchers, and the public for the purpose of understanding how data users value and use government data; (2) identify methods to collect and analyze digital information on data asset usage by users within and outside of the agency, including designating a point of contact within the agency to assist the public and to respond to quality issues, usability issues, recommendations for improvements, and complaints about adherence to open data requirements within a reasonable period of time; (3) develop a process to evaluate and improve the timeliness, completeness, consistency, accuracy, usefulness, and availability of open Government data assets; and (4) includes requirements for meeting the goals of the agency open data plan, including the acquisition.

A playbook and use cases that describe prioritization methodologies and examples of open data access to support this action will be available at

Milestone Measurement Target Date Reporting Mechanism Required or Encouraged
Publish an Open Data Plan for sharing priority agency data assets, developed with stakeholder engagement, including data assets that support AI R&D (see Action 6) Completion After OMB Open Data Plan Guidance is issued; Annually on Agency IRM Strategic Plan schedule Agency Information Resource Management Strategic Plan Required for all agencies
Execute a process to evaluate and improve the timeliness, completeness, consistency, accuracy, usefulness, and availability of open Government data assets Qualitative and quantitative improvements December 31, 2020 & agency public data.json APIs Required for all agencies

Action 6: Publish and Update Data Inventories

By July 2020, all agencies will update existing comprehensive data inventories in accordance with updated standard metadata that facilitates ingestion by and search engine optimization. At least every 90 days, all agencies will identify missing or incomplete listings in their comprehensive data inventories and ensure metadata is comprehensive for priority data assets, such as data assets included in agency Open Data Plans, identified in Community of Practice Actions 8, 9, and 10, or as identified by the Chief Data Officer Council (CDO Council).

Milestone Measurement Target Date Reporting Mechanism Required or Encouraged
Update comprehensive data inventories for overall completeness and priority data asset sprints Metadata quality improvements Minimally every 3 months, as often as possible Agency public data.json APIs Required for all agencies
Update comprehensive data inventory to conform to standard metadata Completion July 31, 2020 Agency public data.json APIs Required for all agencies

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Community of Practice Actions

Community of Practice Actions are taken by a specific agency or group of agencies related to a common topic, usually through an established interagency council or other existing coordinating mechanism. Community of Practice Actions seek to integrate and coordinate ongoing efforts related to existing laws, regulations, and executive orders that are particularly relevant to the strategy. For this initial Action Plan, the four Community of Practice Actions included were identified as key opportunities for agencies to build upon ongoing efforts to improve and better coordinate data-related initiatives across agencies. In particular, the Community of Practice Actions included in the 2020 Action Plan capitalize on current work related to the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence, the Geospatial Data Act of 2018, the Evidence Act, and efforts related to the management and use of several financial management data assets across government. These four actions, undertaken with cross-agency collaboration, will speed and streamline the execution of existing requirements, as depicted in Exhibit 7 below.

Community of Practice Action

Action 7: Launch a Federal Chief Data Officer Council

By January 2020, OMB will launch, and agency CDOs will participate in, a CDO Council, as required by the Evidence Act and detailed in OMB M-19-23. The CDO Council will meet regularly, establish its priorities, and begin to develop resources as required by the Evidence Act to support CDOs in fulfilling their responsibilities under the Evidence Act. Resources may be developed in concert with the FDS team and other councils and will represent government-wide best practices for the generation, use, protection, and dissemination of data; promote and encourage data sharing agreements between agencies; and identify ways in which agencies can improve upon the production of evidence for use in policymaking. The CDO Council’s resources will reflect consultation with the public and engagement with private users of government data and other stakeholders on how to improve access to Federal data assets. In addition, the CDO Council will identify and evaluate new technology solutions for improving the collection and use of data.

The CDO Council will share responsibility with other government-wide councils that conduct statutory, data-related activities, such as the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP) and the Evaluation Officer Council. OMB expects that the activities of these multiple councils will be coordinated through the OMB Federal Data Policy Committee, to be established under Action 12.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Launch CDO Council Number of meetings held January 31, 2020 OMB
Create resources Number of resources published December 31, 2020 CDOs
Encourage use of resources by agencies Track adoption of resources by agencies December 31, 2020 CDOs

Action 8: Improve Data and Model Resources for AI Research and Development

Implementation of the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence (AI),7 is designed to improve the data and computing resources for AI research and development by February 2020. The Executive Order, issued February 2019, includes an objective to “Enhance access to high-quality and fully traceable federal data, models, and computing resources to increase the value of such resources for AI R&D, while maintaining safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality protections consistent with applicable laws and policies.” The Federal Government intends to achieve this objective by:

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Identify barriers to access and quality limitations Completion of RFI February 29, 2020 OMB*
Provide technical schema formats on inventories Completion December 31, 2020 OMB*
Pilot demonstration of how access to data useful for AI should be enhanced Completion December 31, 2020 CDOs

* In consultation with the National Science and Technology Council Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee and the CDO Council.

Action 9: Improve Financial Management Data Standards

The PMA includes a series of CAP Goals that address “functional priority areas for transformation” across government, several of which address improved financial management practices. Three specific CAP Goals have been selected for inclusion in the 2020 Action Plan due to their focus on financial management data assets. By September 2020, the Federal Government, through implementation of the identified CAP Goals below, will have improved the management and use of several financial management data assets.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Getting Payments Right Metrics related to this CAP Goal are being tracked on performance.gov9 See timeline on Getting Payments Right Executive Steering Committee
Results Oriented Accountability for Grants Metrics related to this CAP Goal are being tracked on performance.gov10 See timeline on CAP Goal 8 Executive Steering Committee
Promote public trust in the stewardship of taxpayer dollars Publication of draft strategy September 30, 2020 Financial Data Transformation Executive Steering Committee11

Action 10: Integrate Geospatial Data Practices into the Federal Data Enterprise

By December 2020, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), in coordination with the OMB Federal Data Policy Committee (FDPC), will improve the value of, and access to, geospatial data and services for use across the Federal data enterprise and the public through the implementation of the Geospatial Data Act (GDA). Through this action, FGDC members will coordinate with their agency DGB, their Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information (SAOGI), and the FDPC on the use and integration of geospatial data into broader Federal efforts.

The Federal Government, through the FGDC with input from and in partnership with representatives from state, local, and tribal governments, the private sector, and institutions of higher education, will develop the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) strategic plan to ensure geospatial data from multiple Federal and non-Federal sources are available and easily integrated to enhance decision-making.

The SAOGI at OMB will assist the FGDC in ensuring FGDC cross-representation on appropriate data oversight bodies to help spatially enable the Federal data enterprise. FGDC members will work with the other oversight bodies to establish a process to develop consistent identification of the spatial attributes of both spatial datasets (data with feature geometry) and non-spatial datasets with location attributes (e.g., address, coordinates, county name). This engagement will lay the foundation that enables the relating or joining of data with like spatial attributes to add contextual value and provide a catalyst for innovative data use and spatial analytics.

The FGDC will operate an electronic service known as the GeoPlatform and provide access to geospatial data and related metadata for all National Geospatial Data Assets (NGDA), excluding public disclosure of any information that reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national interest, security, or defense of the nation; and provide standards-compliant metadata and standards-compliant web services for all NGDA data assets, registered with and available as web services through the GeoPlatform.

The Federal Government’s lead agencies for NGDA data assets will identify, inventory, and publish the status and standards being used for each of the NGDA data themes and content and services metadata, consistent with international standards, excluding public disclosure of any information that reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national interest, security, or defense of the nation.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Establish the NSDI strategic plan Completion December 31, 2020 SAOGI at OMB, FGDC, FGDC NGDA Lead Covered Agencies, GSA
Publish a GeoPlatform providing standards-compliant web services for NGDAs Completion December 31, 2020 SAOGI at OMB, FGDC, FGDC NGDA Lead Covered Agencies, GSA
Engage with other relevant councils Number of engagements December 31, 2020 SAOGI at OMB, FGDC, FGDC NGDA Lead Covered Agencies, GSA
Publish NGDA data theme data assets with standards compliant metadata and webservice endpoints Percentage of NGDA data assets that are compliant December 31, 2020 SAOGI at OMB, FGDC, FGDC NGDA Lead Covered Agencies, GSA
Track NGDAs for implementation of standards Percentages of NGDAs with: i) metadata standards, ii) established content standards, iii) standards in process, iv) data assets not requiring standards, v) no established standards 12 months SAOGI at OMB, FGDC, FGDC NGDA Lead Covered Agencies, GSA

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Shared Solution Actions

Shared Solution Actions are described as government-wide data services and represent discrete pilot projects or efforts led by a single agency or existing council for the benefit of all agencies. The ten Shared Solution Actions identified in the 2020 Action Plan are designed to provide government-wide direction, tools, and/or services for implementing the strategy that other agencies will be able to leverage in the future. Many of the Shared Solution Actions have received financial resources as part of the CAP Goal: Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset and are already underway. Similar to the Agency Actions and the Community of Practice Actions, the Shared Solution Actions will also support agencies as they implement existing policies and laws. For example, the Curated Data Skills Catalog to be developed under Action 13 will be available for use by all agencies in support of implementation of both the Evidence Act and the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence, both of which require an assessment of staff capacity for various data-related functions. The graphic below maps each of the ten Shared Solution Actions to a set of relevant laws and guidance.

Shared Solution Actions

Action 11: Develop a Repository of Federal Enterprise Data Resources

By December 2020, the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Government Information Services of the National Archives, and OMB will collaborate with stakeholders to develop the website, a government-wide repository of policies, standards, tools, best practices, and case studies that is required under the Evidence Act.12 This repository, titled Federal Enterprise Data Resources, has been established to provide centralized access to resources related to Federal data management and use in support of agencies as they seek to execute both the FDS and the requirements of the Evidence Act.13 The repository will include the following types of resources:

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Make regular updates to in response to stakeholder input Frequency of feature updates and site improvements December 31, 2020 GSA
Track growth and success of the site Number of resources available by type, resource usage December 31, 2020 GSA
Engage stakeholders to prioritize content Number of stakeholder engagement activities December 31, 2020 GSA, the Office of Government Information Services of the National Archives, and OMB

Action 12: Create OMB Federal Data Policy Committee

By January 2020, OMB will establish the FDPC that will help agencies deliver on mission and effectively steward taxpayer dollars by enhancing OMB’s coordination of Federal data policy, governance, and resource considerations. OMB has statutory responsibility and coordinates many government-wide priorities and functions, many of which have a data-related dimension. The FDPC will be a mechanism to coordinate OMB’s own data policy development and implementation activities for the Federal Government, including those necessary for the executive branch to meet existing and new legal requirements as well as addressing emerging priority data governance areas such as preparing data for use in artificial intelligence. Over time, the FDPC will also provide a forum for OMB offices to address selected data issues that cross agencies or span executive councils’ responsibilities. The FDPC is responsible for government-wide management, governance, and resource priorities for data management standardization and use, including by contributing to the FDS’s annual action plans and align transformation efforts to reduce costs, duplication, and burden. The FDPC will be comprised of senior staff representing OMB’s statutory and programmatic areas, including offices responsible for evaluation, financial management, information technology, performance management, privacy, procurement, regulations, resource management, and statistical policy. The FDPC’s charter will specify roles and responsibilities. OMB’s approach to working across its functional areas will furthermore serve as a model for individual agencies to bridge their own functional silos.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Launch FDPC Number of meetings held January 31, 2020 OMB
Set priorities for 2020 Completion of written priorities endorsed by membership March 31, 2020 OMB
Carry out at least 1 data policy coordination activity Number of data policy related memorandum and circulars updated, streamlined, or rescinded December 31, 2020 OMB

Action 13: Develop a Curated Data Skills Catalog

By November 2020, GSA will complete a curated data skills catalog of learning opportunities to help agencies develop competencies for managing data as a strategic asset and making data-driven decisions. This skills catalog will be aligned to Federal needs for information about existing learning providers, programs, courses, certifications and other credentials, and opportunities for employees to practice and apply new skills.

The catalog will incorporate Federal and non-Federal stakeholder input and will be released in multiple stages to allow useful content to be available as soon as it is ready rather than in a single, delayed release. Demand for skills identified in other parts of the FDS, including Action 4, will inform the priorities for how the catalog is built.

This resource will incorporate information about significant roles in the data ecosystem into its organization and take into account skills, experience, and responsibilities of key job functions as well as support the results of data maturity assessments agencies will do as part of Action 3.

The contents of the catalog will initially be available to the CDOs of each agency as well as other relevant Federal communities as it is being built. Contributions to its development will be encouraged from other groups throughout the process.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Share draft catalog contents with CDOs and other stakeholders Completion February 29, 2020 GSA
Collect input and make revisions Number of stakeholder engagement activities; Improvements added June 30, 2020 GSA
Publish the catalogue on Posted to; Number of resources available in the catalog by data role November 30, 2020 GSA
Transfer responsibility for maintenance to the CDO council Completion December 31, 2020 CDO Council

Action 14: Develop a Data Ethics Framework

By December 2020, GSA will develop a data ethics framework to help agencies systematically identify and assess the potential benefits and risks associated with the data they acquire, manage, and use. This framework is intended to help agency staff, managers, and leaders make considered data acquisition, management, and use decisions to address ethical issues they may encounter throughout the data lifecycle. The framework will be broad and flexible – outlining and describing high-level principles that can be applied to specific circumstances, such as preparing data for the responsible and ethical use of evolving technologies, including mitigating bias when developing AI and machine learning methods and systems.

Once the completed framework and associated implementation tools are published, they will be promoted government-wide for agency use via the CDO Council, ICSP, and various other channels. Fully integrating a data ethics perspective into all aspects of agencies’ data management efforts will require substantial and long-term cultural change. It would involve staff at all levels undergoing training to support and refresh data literacy skills and reinforce protocols related to data privacy, confidentiality, and the ethical collection, use, storage, and dissemination of data. Leadership support, spearheaded by CDOs and Statistical Officials, is crucial, as is agency input into the design of tailored ethics frameworks and their implementation.

Initial work to develop a data ethics framework has already begun with a review of data ethics frameworks developed by other countries, organizations, and advocacy groups to identify common elements and themes to inform development of a U.S. data ethics framework. Next, an inter-agency team will conduct iterative Federal and non-Federal stakeholder engagement. This process will employ a variety of consultation, design, and assessment approaches to ensure broad input into the framework, such as:

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Initial examination of ethical issues encountered across data life cycle   June 30, 2020 GSA with CDO Council and ICSP
Release initial data ethics framework and use cases Posted to December 31, 2020 GSA
Transfer responsibility for review and update   Ongoing every 24 months CDO Council, ICSP

Action 15: Develop a Data Protection Toolkit

By December 2020, the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM), with direction from the ICSP, and the Department of Education will develop a data protection toolkit. The way the Federal Government provides, maintains, and uses data has a unique place in society because use of Federal data has a tremendous impact on the public, businesses, and our democratic process. This trust includes protecting or excluding private information when releasing data publicly. By developing this critical community resource, the Federal Government is demonstrating commitment to strengthening privacy and confidentially promises now and into the future.

This action is designed to address the need to maintain confidentiality and data privacy when providing access to Federal data assets due to the threat of the growing threat of re-identification risk to individuals and businesses from combining publicly available data. Once completed, the data protection toolkit can be used by agencies to develop and implement cost-effective data protection programs. This web-based toolkit will provide a repository for best practices regarding confidentiality and data privacy practices based on existing and emerging standards in partnership with agencies, academia, and industry. The toolkit is intended to serve as a central resource for guidance, tools, and templates to help agencies avoid the unintentional release of data assets that could be used to re-identify individual people or entities.

In addition to developing the toolkit, the FCSM will update the 2005 Report on Statistical Disclosure Limitation Methodology15, which has served as a primary reference for agencies on approaches for maintaining confidentiality and data privacy in Federal data releases. The revision will include more detailed guidance for agencies on assessing, managing, and mitigating the risk that individuals or enterprises are re-identified.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Release initial toolkit Posted to December 31, 2020 FCSM
Release updated Report on Statistical Disclosure Limitation Methodology Posted to December 31, 2020 FCSM

Action 16: Pilot a One-stop Standard Research Application

By March 2020, the Federal Statistical Research Data Center Program Management Office of the U.S. Census Bureau, under the direction of the ICSP, will pilot the first phase of a one-stop portal that reduces the burden on researchers requesting access to restricted Census Bureau data assets. The current process for obtaining restricted data from multiple agencies for research and evidence-building purposes is fragmented, uncoordinated, and requires following a different application process for each agency. Standardizing the application process will eliminate confusion, reduce complexity, improve the user experience, and reduce the wait time to access data, which can range from months to years.

Agencies with active researcher access programs will collaborate with each other and their stakeholder communities to reduce the burden resulting from duplicative and non-standard access request application forms. This standard approach will assist agencies in setting consistent access protocols as required by the Evidence Act. In addition to informing future phases of this pilot, these efficiencies will improve and expand access to data for evidence-building while promoting transparency.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Create pilot portal Completion March 31, 2020 Census Bureau
Recruit users to try the portal and give feedback Number of users April 30, 2020 Census Bureau
Publish report describing success of the project and feedback that will inform future improvements Posted to December 31, 2020 Census Bureau

Action 17: Pilot an Automated Tool for Information Collection Reviews that Supports Data Inventory Creation and Updates

By July 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education will complete a pilot of an automated tool that leverages agency Information Collection Review (ICR) processes and documentation to build agency data inventories and update metadata in agency data inventories. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act,16 all agencies must undergo an ICR in order to gain approval from OMB to collect information from the public. For many agencies, a substantial fraction of data inventory items originate with an information collection.

The automated tool generated under this action will include an electronic template and database management system that facilitates the development and standardization of the content of ICRs developed by agencies for OMB review. The template will have fields that include metadata needed in the agency data inventory that will be tagged in the underlying database. After the agency CDO certifies, and OMB approves, the ICR, the tagged items can be extracted for the agency data inventory. This automated tool will support the inventory requirements under the Evidence Act by organizing metadata captured as part of the information collection design phase into agency inventories. However, this template will only collect some of the information needed for a complete inventory. Metadata resulting from the completed collection (e.g., response rates, variable names, labels, URL for report and data) will need to be acquired through other means before the inventory update can be completed.

This action will begin a multi-year process of deploying an automated approach to populating needed information on agency data inventories using information that is already required to approve ICRs through what has traditionally been a separate process. This project will help address public, cross-agency, and intra-agency needs for data discovery and access by leveraging these existing processes and information. In so doing, the amount of metadata generated by agencies will go beyond the minimum standards currently required,17 and better enable prospective data users to understand the degree to which an already collected data asset can meet their needs. Agency input will be used to inform development and expansion of this pilot.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Develop pilot tool Completion July 31, 2020 NCES
Test tool with at least two agencies Completion December 31, 2020 NCES
Engage stakeholders for feedback on the tool Number of stakeholder engagement activities December 31, 2020 NCES
Publish report describing agency tests and stakeholder input Posted to December 31, 2020 NCES

Action 18: Pilot Enhanced Data Management Tool for Federal Agencies

By September 2020, GSA will have developed and piloted an improved tool for metadata management, data hosting, and API capabilities in support of open data and Federal data catalog requirements under the Evidence Act. Currently, most agencies have to identify their own solution for managing their data inventories, metadata, and APIs. This project will provide agencies with an option to use a centrally developed and hosted data management tool, designed to reduce cost and workload at any individual agency.

GSA will create a government-wide platform pilot with a shared code base and cloud hosting that is customizable to support agency needs, leveraging’s existing open source codebase. This approach can provide agencies with a cost-effective option to manage metadata and data assets, host data assets for public access, assist in the improvement in the quality of metadata and result in increased use and improved user experience for the public and for agencies.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Demonstrate pilot and initial feature set with a pilot agency Completion March 31, 2020 GSA
Infrastructure/security roadmap for production platform Completion March 31, 2020 GSA
Achieve interoperability with continually updated Federal open data metadata schema Completion June 30, 2020 GSA
Develop business plan and cost model Posted to June 30, 2020 GSA
Onboard agency customers Number of agencies onboarded September 30, 2020 GSA
Demonstrate increased data asset availability and improved usage Number of datasets and usage of data assets through platform December 31, 2020 GSA

Action 19: Develop Data Quality Measuring and Reporting Guidance

By December 2020, the FCSM, under direction of the ICSP, will:

Assessing the fitness for specific uses of data is critical to leveraging data effectively. Such an assessment answers the question: Does a data asset have an appropriate level of accuracy, timeliness, and relevance to support the intended use? This action facilitates such assessments by articulating best practices for reporting on the quality of data outputs. Such best practices may include, for example, documentation of a data asset’s representativeness, precision, and coherence. Consistent reporting on such elements allows stakeholders to make informed choices about their use of the data outputs. The action builds on FCSM’s past and current efforts to assess the utility of administrative data for statistical uses, measure data quality in statistical outputs, and establish best practices for reporting on data quality to the public.

The action promotes the effective application of these data best practices by encouraging agencies that originate data to maintain metadata that supports data quality measurement. Such metadata may include, for example, information about potential and actual data providers, ways in which data is gathered, and adjustments made to the data during processing. By pairing the guidance with tools such as metadata templates, the action aims to cultivate data quality reporting in a coordinated Federal Government context.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Completion of report on best practices for reporting on output quality Posted to June 30, 2020 FCSM
Completion of metadata guidance for use by data originators Posted to December 31, 2020 FCSM
Develop tools to aid metadata maintenance Posted to December 31, 2020 FCSM

Action 20: Develop a Data Standards Repository

By December 2020, GSA will collaborate with OMB, in consultation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to create a data standards repository to accelerate the creation and adoption of data standards across agencies. It will include information about the different types of existing standards of all types (e.g., metadata, content, classification), including policies related to using voluntary consensus standards, information about standards-developing organizations and communities of practices inside and outside of government, and a catalog of data standards already in use by the Federal Government. The repository will connect to and will leverage existing repositories of standards-developing methods and tools, and efforts such as the U.S. Data Federation, the National Information and Exchange Model (, and Federal and non-Federal partner community repositories such as the Common Education Data Standards (, Fair Sharing (, and Registry of Research Data Repositories ( The data standards repository will be designed as a user-friendly website in support of both more and less technical users.

Milestone Measurement Target Date Responsible Party
Develop repository with communities, frameworks, and schemas Completion December 31, 2020 GSA and OMB

Looking Forward

The FDS, presented in final form in OMB Memorandum M-19-18, Federal Data Strategy - A Framework for Consistency, describes 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 produced each year will identify priority actions for a given year and incrementally build on progress from year to year, capitalizing on the successes of previous efforts, aligning with ongoing Federal Government programs and policies, and complementing new statutory requirements. In this way, the strategy recognizes the dynamic environment in which agencies must implement the strategy. The production of annual Action Plans allows the implementation of the strategy to adapt each year to adjust to new laws, requirements, and priorities that will impact agencies’ capacity to leverage data as a strategic asset.

Future annual Action Plans will build on the 2020 Action Plan to further develop a coordinated approach to Federal data stewardship. Feedback from stakeholders has and will continue to identify key topic areas for future annual Action Plans, such as attention to data quality, increasing opportunities for safe data-sharing, increasing data literacy throughout the Federal workforce, and addressing organizational culture in support of leveraging data as a strategic asset. Future annual Action Plans will build on and expand the efforts taken by agencies to advance the mission of the FDS to leverage the full value of Federal data, in alignment with American values, for mission, service, and the public good.

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  1. The provisions under Title I of the Evidence Act apply to the 24 agencies identified in the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (CFO Act) in 31 U.S.C. §901(b), but OMB Memorandum M-19-23 strongly recommends participation of all non-CFO Act agencies, and sub-agencies, operational divisions, and bureaus of CFO Act agencies. Thus, this requirement is only mandatory for agencies that are subject to the Evidence Act’s mandatory requirements but encouraged for all others. 

  2. President’s FY2019 Budget: Building and Using Evidence to Improve Government Effectiveness (Analytical Perspectives) 

  3. Use of the terminology “learning agendas” are equivalent to the “agency evidence-building plans,” as required in the Evidence Act. 5 U.S.C. §312(a). 

  4. 5 U.S.C. §312(a). 

  5. A Playbook in Support of the Federal Data Strategy: Getting Started on Prioritizing Data Governance and Assessing Maturity can be found in the repository at

  6. The Evidence Act directs all agencies to develop an Open Data Plan that identifies “priority data assets, that is, any data asset for which disclosure would be in the public interest and establishes a plan to evaluate each priority data asset for disclosure on the Federal Data Catalogue, including an accounting of which priority data assets have not yet been evaluated.” See 44 U.S.C. §3506. 

  7. See Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence (2019) available at: 

  8. See the Federal register Notice available at: 

  9. See a full description of the CAP Goal available at: 

  10. See a full description of the CAP Goal available at: 

  11. With approval and concurrence from OMB 

  12. 44 U.S.C. §3511(c)(2). 

  13. 44 U.S.C. §3511 

  14. 44 U.S.C. §3511(c)(2). 

  15. See Report on Statistical Disclosure Limitation Methodology available at: 

  16. 44 U.S.C. §3501 et seq. 

  17. Government-wide metadata standards are available at