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June 25, 2019

The OCDO, Coming to an Agency Near You

This is the part of the new Data Analytics CoE OCDO Series…

What is an OCDO?

An organization’s implementation of an Office of the Chief Data Officer (OCDO) should help promote the intersection between policies, processes, and people responsible for managing data as a strategic asset. The Centers of Excellence are helping customer agencies define roles better by bridging technical expertise with the customer agency’s organizational expertise. Defining the roles and responsibilities for the OCDO is new territory for federal departments and agencies. For the OCDO to be successful, diverse expertise in business, technology, innovation, and change management will be necessary. The 2018 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEBP) states “the head of each agency shall designate a nonpolitical appointee employee in the agency as the Chief Data Officer of the agency” and leaves the organizational structure and resources to agencies themselves.

The coordination of technology, data, and business priorities will be the primary focus of the OCDO as it continues to develop and evolve. The OCDO should support high quality, integrated data assets that are easily shared and accessed, and proactively used by staff and managers for operations, decision-making, and planning internally with delivery partners. Working with the CTO or CIO, the CDO should also ensure that tools and training are available for all levels of business users, including those with limited or no technical experience. Determining the full extent of this office’s role will require the enterprise to self-reflect on its organizational vision.

Finding where your OCDO should fit in the organization and establishing clear roles and responsibilities within the organizational structure can be challenging. The current legislation and guidance (e.g., FEBP, Open Data Act, etc.) provides a substantive set of requirements for the OCDO. When combined with an agency’s specific needs, these foundational documents provide the baseline for a successful OCDO.


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