Data collected by government organizations are a public asset, and they need to be managed in ways that protect the public’s interest. As government organizations move toward more equitable decision making and actions, the data used in this work must be collected, shared, maintained, and protected in ways that put the public’s needs at the center. And this work starts with shared governance of the data.
We created the course Data Governance for Public Decision Making in partnership with University of California Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy to help government organizations better understand their obligation to share power in data management decision making. When set up correctly, data governance brings a more diverse set of perspectives to the table.
In addition, the government’s data governance work focuses, in part, on ways to democratize the organization’s data, making those data more accessible to internal stakeholders and the public where appropriate. But that has to be accomplished while also protecting the privacy of personal data and the agency of those whose data are being collected. These two concepts—democratization and self-determination—are fundamental to more equitable data use and management.
A Google search will provide you with general resources on the basics of data governance in the private sector. But our course specifically focuses on the unique stewardship role governments have in collecting data on behalf of the public interest. And we focus not only on the “what” of data governance, but also on how to gain understanding and enthusiasm to establish a sustainable data governance practice. Finally, we discuss all of this work within the context of the unique needs and limitations of government organizations. After all, the work of a government is not the same as a private sector company (the typical audience for data governance course work).
Ultimately, we want to see more government organizations evolve the way they think and act on their data management work. And we believe that a good place to start is in the better governance of those data.