Data quality and data governance are two keys to implementing emerging technologies, Federal officials emphasized on August 25 during a FedInsider webinar.

Avital Percher, the assistant to the chief data officer for Analytics and Strategy at the National Science Foundation (NSF), explained that the importance of data isn’t a new development for the NSF when implementing emerging technology. The difference is the growing number of sources generating data, and how organizations use emerging technologies to rapidly unlock its value.

At the NSF, especially with cloud storage capabilities, the biggest transition in increasing data sets is determining the data being stored, “recognizing that we can maintain these [data sets] for much longer increases the chance that we would be able to leverage [it] as a useful tool further down the line,” said Percher. 

Scott Beliveau, branch chief of Advanced Analytics at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), added that it’s essential that agencies have a data management strategy to leverage emerging technologies.

“As innovation grows, data grows. So, we must have a data management strategy to leverage all that [incoming] data. [And this] drives forward the importance of data quality and its constant improvement,” said Beliveau.

Data quality is essential in these efforts, but ensuring good quality goes beyond verifying that the numbers on a table are accurate. The quality of data sets is also determined by documenting where the data comes from, how often it’s updated, and who has access to it.

“Agencies must focus on data governance and establish a more robust framework that assures the processes and data management are up to snuff,” Percher said. NSF, at the moment, is focusing primarily on accessibility and transparency and making sure that everybody has the opportunity and access to get the information they need to make an informed decision about the data that they’re using, he added.

But agencies must foster that culture and, according to Beliveau, the way to do so is to start small and prove the use cases.

“Folks should really be looking at thinking about delivering regular snacks, or ‘snackable’ forms of emerging technology and data, not full meals,” said Beliveau. “[When] you deliver a full meal, everybody falls asleep. But if you deliver those small snacks, everybody keeps coming back for more. So those wins build upon those wins.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.