The Federal work space is a-buzz over the role of agency Chief Data Officers (CDO). How will they optimize the use of existing agency data and bring new analytic capabilities to the business enterprise? I recall, as a Federal executive, when Chief Information Officers (CIO) entered the Federal bureaucracy en masse. It was thought at the time that CIOs would quickly wrap their heads around IT, curbing escalating costs and optimizing agency capabilities. However, it seemed that years passed before CIOs settled into the rhythm of the broader Federal bureaucracy. There are lessons to be learned for these incoming CDOs that will let them impact their agencies’ missions as soon as possible

The Role of the CDO

When the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act was signed into law in January 2019, several new requirements were levied upon Federal agencies. It established that certain Federal Government data assets be made available to the public in an open readable format. It also requires agencies to maintain and publish a comprehensive data inventory of all data assets, with the Government Services Administration (GSA) centralizing lists of agency data inventories. At the center of the new law, and to manage all this and other new data related capabilities, agencies are now required to put in place a qualified Chief Data Officer (CDO). CDOs will serve as agency points of contact in the lifecycle of data produced and stored by an agency. They are responsible not just for the processes that collect, manage and store agency data, but also for analyzing and building new insights from that data. These insights will better inform agency business practices and senior decision-makers. The intent of the OPEN Data Act is clear, but from my perspective as a 37-year veteran Federal executive, five bureaucratic elements must be present if new CDOs are to be successful in the short term.

Five Elements for Success

  • First, CDOs must be technically and analytically competent. They must be capable of comprehending the full array of agency mission data. This includes a thorough knowledge of the specific kinds of agency data that is available, the nature of all disparate data sources, and how the data can be re-structured and presented to better inform decision-makers through innovative and revealing ways.
  • Second, they must possess leadership skills that enable them to build productive senior teams and herd bureaucratic cats, when necessary.
  • Third, CDOs must be positioned within the C-Suite. They must have access to senior decision-makers to ensure a two-way understanding of strategic requirements, annual objectives, priorities, encumbrances and achievements.
  • Fourth, CDOs must have the requisite authority and funding to achieve the objectives established by senior leadership.
  • Fifth and finally, CDOs must have available to them an array of technical and advisory services that afford them the ability to identify solutions and realize successful data-intensive projects within agreed-upon timeframes.

With technical competence, leadership skills, access to decision-makers, authority and funding, and the availability of industry, CDOs will quickly meet OPEN Data Act objectives and avoid lengthy position optimization.

Next Phase Supports the Mission

Next Phase Solution, LLC (NPS) is a woman-owned small business boasting excellent Federal customer references. We feature software architecting, design and consulting, and deploy configurable content management solutions. Our specialists work with CDOs to automate business processes using paperless technologies, making information management, projects and tasks more efficient. We use discovery methods and modeling that assist CDOs envision a more efficient way to automate data driven business processes and obtain demanding data analytic objectives. We are not just technologists, but are expert communicators working in collaboration and partnership to achieve stated objectives. We can seamlessly integrate multiple legacy data systems into one interface, while securing all data at rest and in transit. Our solution is 100% developed in the USA and is cloud/or on-premises friendly. It can quickly evolve to meet changing project requirements at lower costs. On the GSA Schedule, Next Phase Solution, LLC, is ready to assist CDOs expertly manage data driven missions into the future.  Contact us at (407) 440-1411 for a demonstration or reach out through email at