The network, which has been in the formation stages for some time now, aims to connect data leadership within various state governments, helping to facilitate cooperation such as sharing best practices.
A new network for chief data officers officially launched today after being in the works for the better part of two years.
Dubbed simply the State Chief Data Officers Network, the collaborative network is being housed within The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The goal is to strengthen data work within state governments nationwide, doing so by facilitating the sharing of best practices, as well as other mutually beneficial support.
One of the first official actions of the group is to convene current state CDOs, as well as the CDO for Washington, D.C., on Georgetown’s campus for two days of meetings and discussions. That event will start Tuesday, Nov. 12 and finish Wednesday, Nov. 13. On the agenda for the group’s first official meeting is programming related to defining CDO roles and responsibilities; the challenges of sharing data across programs and agencies; identifying emerging state data issues; and the overlap between federal, state and municipal data work. The assembled group will also work to build a state CDO toolkit.
The group released a set of its top priorities, which include identifying state data work that can be scaled to other states; identifying state challenges where data work might make a difference; creating resources such as toolkits; and encouraging states that don’t yet have a CDO to add the position. Currently, nearly 30 states have CDOs or roughly equivalent data leadership positions.
The breakdown is that 14 states have appointed CDOs, three states currently have acting CDOs in place, five states are in the hiring process for a CDO, and four states have vacant CDO positions. In addition, Arizona has a state data management architect that is roughly equivalent to a CDO; Hawaii passed legislation creating a CDO position but has made no move to hire; and Louisiana previously had a CDO, but it is unclear if that state plans to fill the now-vacant position. Of this group, organizers said that 16 are expected to attend this week's event in Washington, D.C.
“The Beeck Center focuses on scaling promising grassroot efforts so they will ultimately change systems and institutions,” said Nate Wong, executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, in a press release. “The value of data officers in public technology has been understated. Bringing State CDOs together under one roof will create stronger ideas, improved coordination, and ultimately showcase the need for this role in all 50 states.”
The State CDO Network is supported by Schmidt Futures and Annie E. Casey Foundation, in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation. It is part of The Beeck Center’s Digital Service Collaborative. While this is the first official professional network of its kind for state CDOs, data leaders within municipal government have a group of their own for several years through the Civic Analytics Network within The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School.