OMB Releases Guidance on CDOs, Learning Agendas

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memo on implementing the first phase of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, including deadlines for naming agency chief data officers (CDO), creating data governance bodies, and developing learning agendas.

The memo reinforces the deadline established by law that all agencies need to have a CDO by July 13. Each CFO Act agency also needs to name an evaluation officer and statistical official by that date. These officials will need to go through an Evidence Act orientation in September 2019, and interagency councils will be established by OMB for CDOs, evaluation officers, and statistical officials.

Agencies also will need to have their data governance bodies in place by September 30. Data governance bodies, chaired by the CDO, will set agency data policy, coordinate data management responsibilities, and oversee agency implementation of the Federal Data Strategy. While OMB does not mandate the participation of the CIO, CFO, or other senior officials, the memo notes that OMB expects those “positions [to] have defined roles in the governance process.”

The memo requires agencies to provide by September 2019 an update on development of their learning agendas and their capacity assessments as part of their fiscal year 2021 budget submissions. The memo notes that learning agendas should aim to answer both short-term and long-term questions, and carry through for four years.

“Learning agendas should be iterative, flexible, transparent, and tailored to both meet an individual agency’s needs and address agency-specific challenges to developing evidence,” the memo states.

Long-term, agencies will need to submit an interim learning agenda and capacity assessment, and a complete evaluation plan in September 2020, and will publish their finalized learning agenda and capacity assessment in February 2022, alongside the agency’s strategic plan.

Not included in phase one of the guidance are the Open Data Plans that are mandated by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The memo notes that Open Data Plan guidance will be in the “forthcoming” phase two guidance. While the plans may be new for agencies, OMB notes that other open data requirements from the law are similar to existing OMB policies, and should be familiar to agencies.

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