Establishing a data-driven government, Federal officials suggested today, requires recognizing data management as a team sport, putting change “champions” into positions of responsibility, and educating the workforce to realize the value of the day they are collecting.

“A lot of Air Force data is actually held in the functional areas and so it’s really about building these change champions, I like to call them CDE’s— Chief Data Evangelists— that really can help us drive solutions together,” U.S. Air Force (USAF) Chief Data Officer Eileen Vidrine said during a FedSpace webinar on July 22.

“That partnership piece is critical because those functional leads really maintain the context of the data, which can be really important in the analysis perspective.” Vidrine said. She added that it’s “not just about having the best data scientists and best data architects [and] engineers across the department,” but to make sure those experts can work together holistically.

Arian Ravanbakhsh, Supervisory Records Management Policy Analyst at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), made the point that agencies must realize the value of the information they manage – a process that he said may still require plenty of work from agencies.

In creating data leaders and implementing the Federal Data Strategy, Ravanbakhsh advised to “get to know your agency’s records officer and agency lawyers.”

“Build a team around those people and they’re the people who understand the requirements and the importance of what your agency already has,” Ravanbakhsh said.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.