Skip Navigation
United States

Chief Data Officers (US0109)



Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active


Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Pending IRM Review

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review


Increased access to data and the use of rigorous evidence is essential to optimizing government services that improve the lives of American citizens. In recent years, though, many Federal Government agencies have become deluged by vast and expanding volumes of information that complicate their ability to manage, analyze, and integrate the data to inform public policy deliberations. Most Federal agencies do not yet have a senior official empowered to, and responsible for, coordinating the active use of data within their agencies. Consequently, and consistent with legislation signed into law by President Trump on January 14, 2019, the Administration will prioritize the appointment of a Chief Data Officer (CDO) at each CFO-Act agency. Each designated CDO will be required to possess the right level of competencies, experience, and training in – and will be responsible for improving the respective agency’s performance of – the suite of issues pertaining to data management, governance, collection, analysis, protection, use, and dissemination.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

5. Create Agency-level Chief Data Officers

Main Objective

“The Administration will prioritize the appointment of a Chief Data Officer (CDO) at each CFO-Act agency.”


None provided.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see the United States’ action plan at:

IRM Design Report Assessment





Potential impact:


Commitment analysis

This commitment prioritizes the appointment of a Chief Data Officer (CDO) at each CFO-Act agency.

The Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990 reforms financial management of 24 federal agencies. [56] The requirement for all CFO Act agencies to appoint a CDO was mandated under the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174). [57] CDOs shall be nonpolitical appointees “designated on the basis of demonstrated training and experience in data management, governance (including creation, application, and maintenance of data standards), collection, analysis, protection, use, and dissemination.” [58] The full text of the Commitment 5 includes this language verbatim.

The need for federal agency CDOs stems from the increasing amount of data that federal agencies collect, manage, and generate. According to Jane M. Wiseman, formerly of the Department of Justice:

As agencies become increasingly data-driven, the rapid acceleration of the volume of data available has generally exceeded the pace of growth in the ability of government to manage and use that data to make decisions. Many government agencies are awash in data but struggling to analyze and make sense of it. The exception is in cases where a government agency has appointed a leader to manage the transition to a data-driven culture. [59]

William Brantley, of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, notes that the U.S. federal government is perhaps the largest data producer worldwide, with federally-held data serving as a major driver of the American economy as businesses significantly use its data for decision-making purposes and to provide products or services to their customers. [60]

Regarding CDOs’ material impact, a growing body of evidence suggests that leveraging federal data efficiently via creating CDO positions can result in substantial federal cost savings. This is demonstrated by several recent examples from existing CDOs’ work at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (whose use of data to fight fraud has yielded a fivefold return on investment) and the U.S. Postal Service (whose use of data to reduce wasteful fund usage resulted in $920 million in savings in 2016). [61] And yet, the 10 largest federal agencies had only three cabinet-level CDOs prior to the Act’s passage, highlighting the potential for expanding CDO roles at federal agencies. [62] Only seven of twenty-four agencies subject to the Act’s CDO requirement had a CDO prior to the evidence-based policy act’s passage in January 2019. [63] Prioritizing the appointment of CDOs is therefore of both practical and material importance.

The commitment nevertheless has no clear relevance to OGP values. As an internal-facing government initiative, the commitment aims to better manage federal data, but does not explicitly aim to make data publicly available (thereby broadening public access to information) or facilitate public accountability. Nor will it involve the public in federal data management, thereby encouraging civic participation. The commitment also has no direct relevance to the OGP value of technology and innovation for access to information aside from the inherent use of data in the proposed CDO positions.

The commitment has a moderate potential impact given the potentially substantial cost savings the CDO positions could generate for the federal government, particularly given the current lack of CDOs at federal agencies. [64] There is also potential for data transparency and accountability via the creation of CDO positions, assuming better data management will make government-held data more readily accessible to the public. The commitment is nevertheless assessed as having limited relevance for open government and OGP values; its impact is therefore not assessed further.

[56] U.S. General Accounting Office Accounting and Financial Management Division, “The Chief Financial Officers Act: A Mandate for Federal Financial Management Reform” GAO/AFMD-12.19.4 (Sept. 1991), For a full list of CFO Act agencies, see United States Chief Financial Officers Council, “About” (accessed 11 Oct. 2020),
[57], “H.R.4174 – Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018” (accessed 8 Mar. 2020), President Trump signed this into law on 14 January 2019. White House, “Statement and Releases: Bill Announcement” (14 Jan. 2019),
[58], “H.R.4174 – Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act” at §3520. See specifically id. at 132 STAT. 5542 “Sec. 3520. Chief Data Officers.”
[59] Jane Wiseman, Data-Driven Government: The Role of Chief Data Officers (Harvard Kennedy School, 19 Sept. 2018),
[60] William Brantley, “The Value of Federal Government Data” (, 14 Mar. 2018), See also Wiseman, Data-Driven Government.
[61] Wiseman, Data-Driven Government at 10−11.
[62] Id. at 5.
[63] Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, “Agencies are Now Required to Have a Chief Data Officer. Do They?” (FedScoop, 5 Aug. 2019),
[64] The IRM researcher notes that the commitment merely “prioritize[s]” the appointment of CDOs, instead of committing to actually appointing CDOs. While actual appointment is assumed for assessing potential impact, the commitment’s lack of clarity in this regard poses challenges for verifiability.


  1. Federal Data Strategy

    US0105, 2019, E-Government

  2. Grants Accountability

    US0106, 2019, E-Government

  3. Public Access to Federally Funded Research

    US0107, 2019, Access to Information

  4. Workforce Data Standards

    US0108, 2019, E-Government

  5. Chief Data Officers

    US0109, 2019, Access to Information

  6. Open Data for Public Health

    US0110, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Enterprise Objective

    US0111, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Developing Future Action Plans

    US0112, 2019, Public Participation

  9. Reconstitution of the

    US0053, 2015, E-Government

  10. Accessibility of Government Information Online

    US0054, 2015, Marginalized Communities

  11. Access to Educational Resources

    US0055, 2015, Access to Information

  12. Public Listing of Every Address in the US

    US0056, 2015, Access to Information

  13. Informed Decisions About Higher Education.

    US0057, 2015, Access to Information

  14. New Authentication Tools to Protect Individual Privacy and Ensure That Personal Records Go Only to the Intended Recipients.

    US0058, 2015,

  15. Transparency of Open311

    US0059, 2015, E-Government

  16. Support Medicine Research Throught Opening up Relevant Data of the Field

    US0060, 2015, Access to Information

  17. Access to Workforce Data

    US0061, 2015, Access to Information

  18. Using Evidence and Concrete Data to Improve Public Service Delivery

    US0062, 2015, Capacity Building

  19. Expand Use of the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard

    US0063, 2015,

  20. Consolidation of Import and Export Systems

    US0064, 2015, E-Government

  21. Improving Government Records

    US0065, 2015, Access to Information

  22. Starred commitment Ammendments to FOIA

    US0066, 2015, Access to Information

  23. Streamline the Declassification Process

    US0067, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0068, 2015, Access to Information

  25. Transparency of Privacy Programs and Practices

    US0069, 2015, Capacity Building

  26. Transparency of Federal Use of Investigative Technologies

    US0070, 2015, E-Government

  27. Increase Transparency of the Intelligence Community

    US0071, 2015, Access to Information

  28. Starred commitment Open Science Through Open Data

    US0072, 2015, Access to Information

  29. Open Data Portal

    US0073, 2015, E-Government

  30. Increase Transparency of Trade Policy and Negotiations

    US0074, 2015, E-Government

  31. Develop a Machine Readable Government Organizational Chart

    US0075, 2015, Access to Information

  32. Improving Public Participation

    US0076, 2015, Public Participation

  33. Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0077, 2015, Public Participation

  34. Civic Engagement in Decision-Making Processes

    US0078, 2015, Public Participation

  35. Open Mapping

    US0079, 2015, Access to Information

  36. Tracking OGP Implementation

    US0080, 2015, Public Participation

  37. Strengthening Whistleblower Protection

    US0081, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  38. Transparency of Legal Entities

    US0082, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  39. Extractive Industries Transparency

    US0083, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  40. Spending Transparency

    US0084, 2015, Access to Information

  41. Enhance the Use of U.S. Foreign Assistance Information

    US0085, 2015, Aid

  42. Participatory Budgets and Responsive Spending

    US0086, 2015, Fiscal Openness

  43. Expand Access to Justice to Promote Federal Programs

    US0087, 2015, Access to Justice

  44. Starred commitment Build Safer Communities with Police Open Data

    US0088, 2015, Access to Information

  45. Open Federal Data to Benefit Local Communities

    US0089, 2015, Access to Information

  46. Support the Municipal Data Network

    US0090, 2015, Access to Information

  47. Foster Data Ecosystems

    US0091, 2015, Capacity Building

  48. Extend Digital, Data-Driven Government to Federal Government’S Support for Communities

    US0092, 2015, Capacity Building

  49. Promote Implementation of SDGs

    US0093, 2015, Access to Information

  50. Starred commitment Promote Open Climate Data

    US0094, 2015, Access to Information

  51. Air Quality Data Available

    US0095, 2015, Access to Information

  52. Promote Food Security and Data Sharing for Agriculture and Nutrition

    US0096, 2015, Access to Information

  53. Promote Data Sharing About Global Preparedness for Epidemic Threats

    US0097, 2015, Capacity Building

  54. Promote Global Interconnectivity

    US0098, 2015, Aid

  55. Open Contracting

    US0099, 2015, Access to Information

  56. Harness the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

    US0100, 2015, Access to Information

  57. Open Government to Support Global Sustainable Development

    US0101, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  58. Open Collaboration Onf the Arctic

    US0102, 2015, Environment and Climate

  59. Support Capacity Building for Extractives Transparency

    US0103, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  60. Support Responsible Investment and Business Practices for Companies

    US0104, 2015, Private Sector

  61. Improve Public Participation in Government

    US0027, 2013, Capacity Building

  62. Modernize Management of Government Records

    US0028, 2013, Records Management

  63. Modernize the Freedom of Information Act

    US0029, 2013, Access to Information

  64. Transform the Security Classification System

    US0030, 2013, Records Management

  65. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0031, 2013, Security & Public Safety

  66. Increase Transparency of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activities

    US0032, 2013, Data Stewardship and Privacy

  67. Make Privacy Compliance Information More Accessible

    US0033, 2013, E-Government

  68. Support and Improve Agency Implementation of Open Government Plans

    US0034, 2013,

  69. Strengthen and Expand Whistleblower Protections for Government Personnel

    US0035, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  70. Increase Transparency of Legal Entities Formed in the United States

    US0036, 2013, Fiscal Openness

  71. Starred commitment Implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

    US0037, 2013, Access to Information

  72. Make Fossil Fuel Subsidies More Transparent

    US0038, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  73. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0039, 2013, Access to Information

  74. Increase Transparency of Foreign Assistance

    US0040, 2013, Aid

  75. Continue to Improve Performance.Gov

    US0041, 2013, E-Government

  76. Consolidate Import and Export Systems to Curb Corruption

    US0042, 2013, Private Sector

  77. Promote Public Participation in Community Spending Decisions

    US0043, 2013, Fiscal Openness

  78. Expand Visa Sanctions to Combat Corruption

    US0044, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  79. Further Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0045, 2013, Capacity Building

  80. Open Data to the Public

    US0046, 2013, Access to Information

  81. Continue to Pilot Expert Networking Platforms

    US0047, 2013, Public Participation

  82. Reform Government Websites

    US0048, 2013, E-Government

  83. Promote Innovation Through Collaboration and Harness the Ingenuity of the American Public

    US0049, 2013, Capacity Building

  84. Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement

    US0050, 2013, E-Government

  85. Deliver Government Services More Effectively Through Information Technology

    US0051, 2013, E-Government

  86. Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0052, 2013, Access to Information

  87. Reform Records Management

    US0001, 2011, Public Participation

  88. Lead a Multi-Agency Effort

    US0002, 2011, Capacity Building

  89. Monitor Agency Implementation of Plans

    US0003, 2011, Public Participation

  90. Provide Enforcement and Compliance Data Online

    US0004, 2011, Access to Information

  91. Advocate for Legislation Requiring Meaningful Disclosure

    US0005, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  92. Apply Lessons from Recovery Act to Increate Spending Transparency

    US0006, 2011, Fiscal Openness

  93. Government-Wide Reporting Requirements for Foreign Aid

    US0007, 2011, Access to Information

  94. Use Performanc.Gov to Improve Government Performance and Accountability

    US0008, 2011, Public Participation

  95. Overhaul the Public Participation Interface on Regulations.Gov

    US0009, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  96. Launch Expertnet

    US0010, 2011, E-Government

  97. Launch International Space Apps Competition

    US0011, 2011, E-Government

  98. Launch “We the People”

    US0012, 2011, E-petitions

  99. Open Source “We the People”

    US0013, 2011, E-petitions

  100. Develop Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation

    US0014, 2011, Capacity Building

  101. Professionalize the FOIA Administration

    US0015, 2011, Access to Information

  102. Harness the Power of Technology

    US0016, 2011, Access to Information

  103. Advocate for Legislation on Whistleblower Protection

    US0017, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  104. Explore Executive Authority to Protect Whistleblowers

    US0018, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  105. Implement the EITI

    US0019, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  106. Partnership to Build on Recent Progress

    US0020, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  107. Promote Data.Gov to Spur Innovation Through Open Sourcing

    US0021, 2011, Access to Information

  108. Data.Gov: Foster Communities on Data.Gov

    US0022, 2011, Access to Information

  109. Begin Online National Dialogue with the American Public

    US0023, 2011, Public Participation

  110. Update Government-Wide Policies for Websites

    US0024, 2011, Public Participation

  111. Promote Smart Disclosure to Ensure Timely Release of Information

    US0025, 2011, Access to Information

  112. Publish Guidelines on Scientific Data

    US0026, 2011, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership