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Virginia May Be the Next to Hire a CDO

Virginia is considering a flurry of data-centric bills, including one that would create a state chief data officer position.

Ten bills introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in January have been withdrawn and placed under the purview of newly elected Gov. Ralph Northam — one of which would create a state chief data officer (CDO) position.

As it stands, Northam is expected to roll most, if not all the bills, together into a larger package — this according to Del. Mark Keam, D - 35th District. “My original bill is not going forward," he said. “The governor has reached out to use my bill in an open data initiative." 

According to Keam's HB 781, known as the Virginia Open Data Initiative Act, the state would hire a CDO to “oversee the establishment of procedures, standards, and best practices regarding the appropriate access and presentation of open data and datasets by each agency."

The original legislation would also give the CDO oversight on the development of a data set format standards and data accessibility in a machine-readable format that is compliant with state and federal law.

If Virginia executes this bill as written, the state would be one of nine states to have hired CDOs. Cities have been quicker to embrace the role. To date, at least 12 cities employ a data czar. At last count, only three counties — King County, Wash., Los Angeles County and Riverside County, Calif. — have hired for the position.
Several other Virginia data bills of note include:

HB 1582 Establishes the Commonwealth Data Trust Advisory Council (Council), consisting of 16 members to advise the governor on policy and funding priorities to expedite deployment of data analytics to inform policies in communities throughout the state. 
SB 580 Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act; amends act to facilitate sharing data. The bill would amend the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act to facilitate the sharing of data among agencies of the state, and between the commonwealth and political subdivisions.
SB 637 Called the Virginia Longitudinal Data System, it would require the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to report additional information regarding the alignment of postsecondary education and workforce in the state. The bill also directs the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Virginia Employment Commission and the Department of Taxation to cooperate with SCHEV to further assist in the collection and sharing of data regarding workforce analysis.
Elizabeth Zima is a former staff writer for Government Technology. She has written in depth on topics including health care, clinical science, physician relations and hospital communications.
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