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Data Governance: Steps to Get Started

In state systems, Data Governance is the creation of roles and processes to establish the rules to maintain data quality, what data can be shared, who “owns” what, who can see what data, and who will manage it to achieve the organization’s goals.  


Every IT System in Every State Agency Collects Data 

State systems often collect and retain the same or equivalent data about the same individuals. Some data is up-to-date; some may be stale, reflecting an old name, address, demographic, or other information, and some may be incorrect due to errors in manual entry.  

Streamlining Application Processes 

A common business goal of data governance in state systems is to streamline the application process for people applying for services from state programs by sharing citizen information between programs—that way, they don’t have to repeatedly input the same data. If they update their information in one place, it updates all the other programs they are enrolled in, assisting them in obtaining the services available to them.  

Achieving this business goal can also reduce staff workload entering, validating, and maintaining data. Consolidating demographic data across the organization also allows the organization to develop and report metrics and statistics. This includes the number of clients the organization serves or the average number or the dollar value of services provided per client. 

Data Governance Tasks

  • Ascertain what limitations exist on sharing the data.
  • Decide what data is available to be shared.
  • Determine who needs to be able to see the data. 
  • Establish data sharing agreements. 
  • Create processes for evaluating data quality and reconciling data conflicts. 
  • Develop roles for data management positions. 

Data Governance is Only Part of the Equation 

To achieve data governance goals, state organizations need to do more than establish the roles and processes for data governance; organizations must: 

  • Define the business goal(s). 
  • Secure executive sponsorship for the process. Without executive sponsorship resolving data sharing conflicts will be impossible—consider creating a chief data officer position. 
  • Create and fill data stewardship positions that execute the governance processes to maintain the quality, security, and trustworthiness of the data shared by the organization. 
  • Establish a committee or workgroup to develop and maintain the data governance processes and evaluate metrics to ensure the program achieves its goals. 

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