(US & Canada) VIDEO | Data Governance Tools Should Be Positioned As Accelerators — US Government Accountability Office CDO

US GAO CDO Dr. Diane. E. Schmidt speaks about organizational frameworks, getting recognized, feedbacks that matter, data governance, tooling, blueprints, and advice for CDOs.

Dr. Diane. E. Schmidt, Managing Director and Chief Data Officer at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) speaks with Nazar Labunets, Product Marketing Manager at Ataccama, in a video interview about organizational frameworks, getting recognized, feedbacks that matter, data governance, tooling, blueprints, and advice for CDOs.

GAO, often called the "Congressional Watchdog,” is an independent and non-partisan agency that works for the Congress. The office examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and provides Congress and federal agencies with objective, non-partisan, and fact-based information to help the government save money and work more efficiently.

Schmidt begins the conversation by stating that there are great frameworks to leverage but they should be there as guidelines as the culture, appetite, and support aspects vary in organizations.

Next, Schmidt recalls being recognized in her former role with the Practitioner of the Year award for the data governance program. She stresses that it was not just one framework but entailed massive teamwork, iterations, challenges, and perseverance to ensure that the last version was the most usable.

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In addition, Schmidt states that the agency is focused on using assessment methodology to look at data capabilities, to ensure what exists and is needed to accelerate the mission.

When asked about the reason behind the award, Schmidt mentions that it was teamwork and the culmination of several years of effort. The policy framework included policy, standards, control metrics, and a quantitative approach to policy implementation, she adds.

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Further, Schmidt says that it also included looking into organizational change management, risk programs, and had a lot to do with organizational maturity and evolution. She asserts that the GAO has always been transparent about its journey.

About getting recognized, Schmidt believes that data management is a journey and the team was able to depict that journey throughout, which led to the award.

When asked about feedback on the data management program, she mentions that organizations must be clear with difficult messages. She recounts that there were questions about the return on investment from stakeholders, which is why the team always focused on business cases, impact, outcomes, and measures.

Adding on, Schmidt stresses that persistence has been the key because the GAO is saving money and it is critical for taxpayers to know where their dollars go.

When asked about the changing needs around data governance, she responds that governance is still critical. In the data space, it is evident in rules, control, and measures, she adds.

Governance at its core is still about people, process, technology, policy framework, and culture, says Schmidt. Therefore, she affirms that showcasing the right metrics and that the assets are being governed in an automated fashion, is critical.

It boils down to picking the right tool, team, and processes, and focusing on automated outcomes to demonstrate that data is trusted and governed.

Shedding light on tooling for data governance, Schmidt says that tools should be positioned as accelerators and not expensive, non-implementable, and shelved objects. She says that many tools help organizations become data-driven, and organizational leaders must go back to the requirement aspect.

Commenting further, Schmidt says that solutions should be:

  1. Effective

  2. Adoptable

  3. Interoperable

  4. Scalable

  5. Adaptable

  6. Integrable

While it is impossible to have one tool that has it all in the current scenario, she recommends iteratively putting components.

Speaking of good blueprints, Schmidt discusses efforts to mature data capabilities at GAO. This includes digital strategy and automated record management via best-in-class tools. She also mentions looking into the consolidation of catalogs for internal data and products.

Additionally, the office is focused on new analytic capabilities, and having an innovation lab to promote a culture of data and technology-driven improvements.

The GAO is known for its robust processes from an auditor perspective, but the leadership is doing its best to improve overall capabilities, says Schmidt. For instance, the office wishes to join the EDM Council, to develop relationships with the federal government.

Being a CDO, thinking about the future of data is fundamental, says Schmidt. Thus she aims to not only foster and facilitate data management and analytics but also internal partnerships.

Concluding with advice to CDOs, she says that it is critical to have transparency and develop relationships. Referring to the Gartner rules, Schmidt recommends CDOs prepare, assess, plan, act, and measure everything that is done while having fun.

CDO Magazine appreciates Dr. Diane. E. Schmidt for sharing her insights with our global community.

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