While the private sector has been swift in harnessing the power of data, public sector entities have been slow in comparison. Several reasons for this include legacy infrastructure, bureaucratic red tape, and a significant gap in skills.
As a result, many local and state governments lack clear data governance, seeing it as a non-essential part of digital transformation. However, overlooking data governance can lead to missed opportunities and damage public trust.
Why Effective Data Governance Matters for State and Local Governments
While most state and local governments agree that data holds value, a surprising number have not implemented governance that reflects this stance. For government entities, the value comes from improved decision-making and more precise targeting for public policies.
Strategic and comprehensive data governance allows state and local governments to extract value and provide more secure data access, sharing, and integration.
Understanding the Difference: Data Governance vs. Data Management
In short, data governance refers to the security, integrity, and availability of data; data management refers to the collecting, storing, and using of data. Although they accomplish different goals, they must operate hand-in-hand.
While managing data without data governance is possible, the result will be far less effective and efficient. Introducing data governance provides the framework for implementing consistent data management, creating a uniform language that helps agencies break down or even avoid silos.
Accelerating Digital Transformation in the Public Sector
By instituting effective data governance, governments can address data inconsistencies, promote inter-departmental data sharing, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards, enabling leaders to formulate more responsive and data-driven responses.
Transforming Numbers Into Insightful Data
Many organizations focus on the value of data but fail to consider quality. Mathematician Clive Humby said, “Data is the new oil,” but many forgot the subsequent explanation.
While data can hold great value, it isn’t beneficial if it is poor quality or poorly managed. Data governance creates a framework to convert raw, virtually unusable data into refined, valuable insights.
Building a Data Governance Strategy
Data governance is a living and evolving process that requires a plan for the present and the future. Building a dynamic data governance strategy should include the following key steps:
- Defining goals and objectives
- Identifying stakeholders (and constituents), securing leadership support
- Building, measuring, or defining your system
- Documenting policies to ensure data compliance and consistency
- Clearly defining roles and responsibilities
- Beginning, measuring, or refining the strategy
- Employing technology and automation to refine data operations
Unifying IT and Public Service: A Collaborative Approach
Typically, data governance is confined solely to the IT department. However, IT should act as an ally to business teams, providing the technological support for efficient data governance and management.
The Economic and Functional Case for Data Governance in Government
While constituents have publicly denounced the amount of waste and fraud in government, data governance holds much promise as a tool for making government units more agile and financially efficient.
The Role of Human Oversight in a Data-Driven Government
Because the most effective data governance strategies are a continuous process, human oversight is critical. Continuous improvement requires regular evaluation of policies and proactive enhancement of existing protocols. There is no end date, meaning people drive the progress in the modern, data-driven government.
Adapting Government Data Practices to a Changing Landscape
While challenges persist, the potential is undeniable. Embracing technologies like cloud computing, AI, automation, and similar tools may be the key.
Leaning into continuous improvement can help governments nurture a culture less focused on “how we’ve always done it” and more about innovation, learning, and progress.
Big Data’s Promise for State and Local Governments
Big data offers many benefits to state and local governments. It can improve policy crafting and decision-making once doomed to the bureaucratic quagmire, highlight redundancies, and spotlight unintentional or intentional waste and abuse.
Constituents can reap additional benefits from the appropriate use of big data as processes become more transparent, easy to navigate, and secure.
Getting Started With Data Governance in State and Local Governments
Engaging professional IT experts is essential to ensure data governance and data management are both practical and efficient. With a scalable and holistic approach, Hartman Executive Advisors can help any agency design a data governance strategy for today — and tomorrow.
Contact us to learn more about our data strategy and governance services for state and local government agencies.