A General Services Administration (GSA) official emphasized the importance of ethics, literacy, and culture in the government data science arena during an August 30 event organized by GovLoop.

Trey Bradley, GSA’s Strategic Data Initiatives Program Director in the Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement, was one of the key players in developing the Federal Data Ethics Framework ­­– which is now owned by the Federal Chief Data Officers Council.

“The Federal Ethics Data Framework was developed with everyone in mind,” he said. “The goal of the Data Ethics Framework was to pull together a lot of the best thinking on data ethics and create a framework that was easy for people to understand.”

Bradley talked about his experience with training Federal agency personnel that are using this new ethics framework, and reiterated the need for more data literacy training.

Bradley often works with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as well as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and gave two examples of effective uses of data science executed within these Federal agencies: electronic invoices and hiring surveys.

“We were able to show that automated invoicing is associated with lower costs . . . lowering agency costs, and ultimately saving money for taxpayers,” he said.

He continued by saying that Federal government hiring “needs some attention.” It’s important for Federal hiring managers to collect data on how they are retaining employees, Bradley said, and better understand which critical occupations need to be filled.

Lastly, he discussed the importance of creating a culture where data literacy is part of the norm within the Federal government.

“You really need to be able to work across agencies, across silos,” Bradley said.

“We need to make sure that we’re sharing data within an agency, which can be a challenge in the Federal government, and can sometimes be even harder than sharing among agencies,” Bradley said. Getting better at data sharing, he said, will support a culture where data science is better known, and used daily.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.