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What is the Purpose of the Federal Data Strategy?

The use of data is transforming the world. The way the Federal Government provides, maintains, and uses data has a unique place in society, and maintaining trust in Federal data is pivotal to a democratic process. To meet the changing role of data and needs of democracy, the Federal Government created a coordinated and integrated data strategy that better enables data to deliver on mission, serve the public, and steward resources while respecting privacy and confidentiality.

The mission of the Federal Data Strategy is to fully leverage the value of federal data for mission, service, and the public good by guiding the Federal Government in practicing ethical governance, conscious design, and a learning culture.

  • The Federal Data Strategy, which compromises the Mission Statement, Principles, and Practices, provides a whole-of-government vision and offers guidance on how agencies should manage and use Federal data.
  • Annual Government-wide Action Plans identify concrete steps for agencies in a given year, to achieve the long-term vision.

The Federal Data Strategy is designed to derive value from data while supporting robust data governance and protecting security, privacy, and confidentiality.

How was the Federal Data Strategy Initiated?

In March 2018, the President’s Management Agenda laid out a new Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal: Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset to develop and implement a comprehensive Federal Data Strategy. Based on this initiative, with input from the full spectrum of government and non-government stakeholders, the first government-wide data strategy has been developed, along with the 2020 Action Plan for implementation.

Who Developed the Federal Data Strategy?

While the CAP goal co-leads and a cross-agency development team have managed the project, the Federal Data Strategy and the 2020 Action Plan was built on the expertise and input of those who contributed ideas, examples, comments, and suggestions in response to several requests for stakeholder input.

The Federal Data Strategy was developed iteratively. A team of 57 members from across the Federal Government, representing 23 agencies, drafted the Federal Data Strategy and 2020 Action Plan. As drafts were created, the team actively sought and incorporated feedback from Federal employees and the public through a series of requests for comments, Federal Forums, and Public Forums.

At each step, the Federal Data Strategy development team published draft documents and asked for feedback and input. Then the team synthesized feedback along the way and updated the Federal Data Strategy and 2020 Action Plan with insights and recommendations from Federal stakeholders and the public.

How were the Principles created?

On behalf of the Federal Data Strategy development team, the Department of Commerce published a Request for Comments (RFC) in the Federal Register on June 27, 2018. The RFC included a set of 10 draft Principles for a comprehensive data strategy and asked the public to “review and provide feedback on their clarity, appropriateness, completeness, and potential duplications.” Comments were also submitted through the Federal Data Strategy website and GitHub. The RFC closed on July 27, 2018 and the website closed to comments on July 30. In addition, the team hosted a Federal Forum on July 25, 2018 and also attended a Public Forum to listen to the public’s comments on July 30, 2018. This process generated close to 100 comments related to the draft Principles. Feedback on the draft Principles was positive, and commenters offered many suggestions to improve the draft version, which have been incorporated in the 10 revised Principles.

In developing the Principles for Levering Data as a Strategic Asset, the following draft Principles, originally published on June 27, 2018, were revised to incorporate alternative or additional concepts or specific word choices suggested by commenters. The category labels of the Principles were changed to “Ethical Governance,” “Conscious Design,” and “Culture of Learning,” providing an improved framework that better reflects the revised Principles. Also, a mission statement for the Federal Data Strategy has been added to connect the Principles to the goal of leveraging data as a strategic asset. In some cases, comments were addressed by changes other than what was directly suggested by the comments. For example, in response to the suggestion that state and local governments be explicitly mentioned as stakeholders, the introductory paragraph adds “Federally-sponsored” data to the types of data encompassed by the Federal Data Strategy.

Download Principles PDF

Download PDF - Draft Principles

Download PDF - Revising the Principles Based on Feedback

How were the Practices created?

On behalf of the Federal Data Strategy team, the Department of Commerce published a Request for Comments (RFC) in the Federal Register on October 16, 2018. The RFC included a set of six specific questions about the draft Practices and asked the public to provide specific Action Steps that should be associated with a particular Practice. Comments were also submitted through the Federal Data Strategy website and GitHub. The RFC closed on November 16, and the website closed to comments on November 23, 2018. Additionally the team hosted a Federal Forum on November 25, 2018 and joined with Bipartisan Policy Center to host a Public Forum on November 8, 2018.

In developing the final set of Practices for Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset, the draft Practices were revised in response to public comment and expert review, including adding new Practices suggested by reviewers; merging Practices where overlap or duplication was identified; and incorporating alternative or additional concepts to improve specific Practices, as suggested by commenters. The draft Practices had been grouped according to five broad objectives, however, after feedback from stakeholders, the revised Practices have been organized under three umbrella categories: “Building a Culture that Values Data and Promotes Public Use”; “Governing, Managing, and Protecting Data”; and “Promoting Efficient and Appropriate Data Use”. The revised Practices are designed to inform agency actions on a regular basis, to be continually relevant, and to be sufficiently general so as to broadly apply at all Federal agencies and across all missions.

Download Practices PDF

Download PDF - Draft Practices

Download PDF - Revising the Practices Based on Feedback

How was the 2020 Action Plan Created?

On behalf of the Federal Data Strategy team, the Department of Commerce published a Request for Comments (RFC) in the Federal Register on October 16, 2018. The RFC asked the public to provide specific Action Steps that should be associated with a particular Federal Data Strategy Practice. Comments were also submitted through the Federal Data Strategy website and GitHub. On June 4, 2019, the Department of Commerce published another RFC in the Federal Register requesting comments on the draft 2020 Action Plan. Again, comments were also accepted through the Federal Data Strategy website and GitHub. In addition, stakeholders offered comments at a Federal Forum on June 25, 2019 and at a Public Forum on July 8, 2019.

Many commenters provided feedback on the 16 Actions included in the draft Action Plan, identifying opportunities for clarification and suggesting additional Actions to address identified gaps. The valuable feedback provided by Federal and public stakeholders has shaped the revisions in the final 2020 Action Plan.

The revised 2020 Action Plan offers additional context, clarity, and detail. The 16 original Action Steps were reorganized, and four additional Action Steps were added based on stakeholder feedback. The revised 2020 Action Plan features a new forward, an expanded introduction, more detailed descriptions of the Action Steps, and a discussion of the role of future Action Plans

Download PDF - Draft 2020 Action Plan

Download PDF - Revisions Based on Feedback

The Data Incubator Project Logo

What was the Data Incubator?

The Data Incubator was a workstream of the Federal Data Strategy that highlighted examples of the use of data to solve problems and serve the public, with an emphasis on examples that can be replicated, scaled, or solve high-priority problems. The Data Incubator workstream involved several activities:

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Gathering Hypotheses

The Data Incubator Project gathered and publicly shared a Use Case List, highlighting examples of how data can be leveraged as a strategic asset to achieve agency mission and public interest outcomes.

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Testing Prototypes

Prototypes were projects at a nascent stage that were actively observed by the Incubator team for their novel approach to recurring federal data challenges.

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Drawing Conclusions

The Data Incubator Project created case studies, also known as Proof Points, on emerging data methods and practices.

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Enabling Replication

The Data Incubator Playbook provides various resources to agencies to launch their own Data Incubator projects. You can find the Incubator Playbook and other resources here.