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Is Your State Data Literate? We Asked CIOs

States across the country are laying the foundation for a strong data program, but many admit there's a lot of work ahead of them. At NASCIO, we learned from Minnesota CIO Tarek Tomes and Texas CIO Amanda Crawford about how they support data literacy at the enterprise level.

Minnesota CIO Tarek Tomes 2024.jpg
Government Technology/David Kidd
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Absent an enterprise data literacy program, prospects for government to capitalize on the potential of artificial intelligence are greatly diminished. Solid data practices and governance give agencies and enterprises a safe place from which to innovate.

But at this week's NASCIO Midyear conference, many state chief information officers characterized their data literacy programs as in their infancy. That admission tracks with recently released survey data from NASCIO, which found that more than 80 percent of state respondents lacked a formal program for data literacy.

In Minnesota, data literacy is built into new employee onboarding, with training at the time of hire and annually thereafter.

As far as practical applications of this data maturity, the state has recently created a new Department of Children, Youth and Families that unites the work of a few different agencies. CIO Tarek Tomes characterized the move as an opportunity to use data to benefit residents.

"To share data in different ways, to break down some of those data silos really ends up meaning huge opportunities for Minnesotans,” Tomes said.

Texas, meanwhile, established a formal program for data literacy in 2022. With elements for both data experts and business leaders, the program could serve as a resource for other jurisdictions at earlier stages of their data journey.

Amanda Crawford, Texas CIO, emphasized the importance of both aspects of the program.

"We want to make sure that leadership understands the value of data and the importance of supporting those sorts of programs and how it can drive better business decisions by using strong data," she said.

Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.