As we continue to focus on our use of data at the Department of FISCal, we are beginning an update of our data governance plan, in cooperation with our four partners. While the results of this effort will not be as immediate or as visible as many of the other actions we are taking, such as the rollout of business intelligence or updating the transparency website, improving our data governance could prove more consequential in the long run.

What is data governance? The Data Governance Institute defines data governance as simply “the exercise of decision-making and authority for data-related matters.” Its more detailed definition says it includes descriptions of “who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.”

To put it more concretely, data governance includes the processes for deciding which system information is confidential, who can get what reports, who has rights and responsibilities to do certain things with data, how data is made available to departments, how departments raise data-related issues with FI$Cal, and how issues get escalated and decided, among many other things.

As a large state IT project, FI$Cal has had a data governance plan in place for some time. However, the existing plan deals primarily with the period when the FI$Cal project is ongoing; it provides only a cursory structure for governance once the project is complete. With much of the project fully implemented, now is the time to think about our long-term governance structure.

As we draft a post-project data governance plan, we’re taking the opportunity to rethink how much responsibility our client departments, who are the ultimate owners of the data, should have for making decisions about their own data within the FI$Cal system. While final decisions have not been made, all parties involved agree our client departments should have more official involvement in the data decision-making process.

We’ll build a structure that includes a Data Governance Workgroup for making most decisions, with a Data Governance Board above them for decisions that need to be escalated. Our client departments will have representation on these bodies.

We’ll also make sure our revised plan aligns with our departmental values of customer focus, innovation, integrity and inclusion, and that we include specific objectives that align with our departmentwide objectives.

If we do it correctly, we will end up with a data governance plan that results in clearer roles and responsibilities, continued security for sensitive information, and improved data access for everyone who uses the system.