Nancy Smith is a UPD friend and Principal Consultant and CEO at DataSmith Solutions. We are happy to have her as a guest blogger this week.

Organizations collect a lot of data for a variety of reasons, but do they effectively manage data as an asset and use data for decision-making? Do they administer data governance as sound standard operating practices to ensure the integrity, reliability and validity of the data it collects?

The central link to successful data governance is the Data Governance Committee (DGC), which serves as the conduit for data governance practices and policies between senior leadership, programs, departments and information technology.

But what does it mean to serve on a DGC? What are you expected to do? How much time will this take away from other responsibilities? Why you? Who else is on the DGC? What does a DGC actually do? A strong DGC administers some customary roles and responsibilities, no matter the industry, organization or organization size in which it serves.

Essential Habits of a Data Governance Committee:


The DGC must first be clear about the purpose of data governance in order to understand the committee’s responsibilities in managing it. Ideally, the goal of data governance is long-term oversight for the organization, not just short-term action for a project.

Example: Ensure that data meets high reliability, validity, security and integrity standards and is used by and made available to key stakeholders through coordinated efforts across departments.


The DGC must set the intention of helping the organization be proactive with data collection, management, coordination and security practices, rather than reactive. The goal is to be coordinated and efficient, rather than responding to crises in a haphazard way.

Figure out the Who, What, When, and How.
  • Who needs to be involved and how? You need broad representation from across the enterprise. Who serves as chair? How do you engage external stakeholders?
  • What types of things will the DGC do? For example: create and manage a data dictionary, document a data collection calendar, approve new data collections or surveys, approve changes to current collections, establish data privacy, security and access rules and processes
  • When will you meet and how often? Many DGCs meet on a monthly basis, but will you need to have subgroups meet occasionally to review special use cases?
  • How will the DGC work? Will decisions be made by vote or consensus? How will they communicate with internal and external stakeholders? Will there be a central location for meeting notes, decisions and documents?
Understand data and information needs.

The DGC works for synergy across the organization, rather than treat each program and department as a one-off system.


The data governance practices must help reduce redundancies and eliminate key data gaps across programs and is transparent about its activities and results.

Periodic Review.

Finally, the DGC must periodically (i.e., at least annually) review its processes and products (i.e., meetings, communication, decision-making, documentation) for effectiveness and for timeliness. Does it need representation from new departments? Do the data collections need to be updated? Are the role-based access processes still sufficient?


The DGC serves a crucial role in establishing effective and efficient data governance practices in an organization. Once the processes and practices are established, data governance becomes an essential part of an organization’s standard operating procedures and is not viewed as an add-on project. Effective data governance yields trust in the data-informed decisions and policies within the organization, and the DGC is fundamental to creating that trust.