Joseph Stuntz is Director of Federal @ Virtru | Washington, DC USA
Joe Stuntz is currently the Director of Federal at Virtru focused on solving Federal information sharing mission challenges. He has experience advising executives and practitioners in both Federal agencies and commercial organizations and has held leadership roles in an advisory services firm and the White House Office of Management and Budget – Office of the Federal CIO working with the Federal CISO on government-wide cybersecurity programs and policy development.
What is the Federal Data Strategy and what are its implications?
The Federal Data Strategy is bringing together a number of different efforts and initiatives in a coordinated way to better support Federal missions and the public. It consists of principles, practices and a draft action plan for the next year. There are 10 principles organized into 3 categories – Ethical Governance, Conscious Design, and Learning Culture – that inform the practices and actions over the next year. The 40 Practices in the Federal Data Strategy are designed to be goals that guide agencies and other stakeholders to constantly improve and also are broken down into three categories –
Building a Culture that Values Data and Promotes Public Use, Governing Managing and Protecting Data, and Promoting Efficient and Appropriate Data Use.
The implications of the data strategy depend a lot on the action plan and implementation by agencies. The principles and practices are excellent ways to organize agency thinking and to guide the next steps, but without prioritization and attention from agency leadership, it will be a nice directional document that lacks significant impact. Data is critical to government missions and the Strategy provides a roadmap to real improvement, but implementation and consistent execution are necessary to get there.
Why is governing, managing, and protecting data critically important for government agencies and enterprises?
Managing data is one of the most critical things that the government does. Whether it is determining the unemployment numbers that move financial markets, managing student debt or tax information or providing services to retirees, data is critical to every government mission. Just as importantly, much of this data is submitted to the government by individuals or business, not generated by the government, and therefore must be protected to preserve the trust between the government and the entity that submitted that data.
Based on this role as an aggregator of data, the challenges and opportunities for the government have changed. Regarding data protection, the government has new and different challenges with more services being online, and more criminals being technically capable and motivated to try and obtain data from those online services and the agencies that support them. But locking down that data with a security mindset, while better for protection, misses the purpose of collecting the data in the first place– which is to provide better services to the public. Through the combination of data sets and making data available to the right users in government and in the public, advances can be made that have never been possible.
Why data strategy should not be viewed as a single policy effort?
This data strategy should not be viewed as a single policy effort or the responsibility of one agency or office. Because the use of data impacts every government mission and since every mission and agency must be involved in the protection of that data, this strategy must be seen as a part of, or an enabler of, many other policy and program efforts. Whether it is generating value from government identity attributes to reduce fraud in the private sector, or opening up health care data to enable precision medicine, this data strategy is necessary but not sufficient to help government move forward, and the integration between this strategy and other efforts is critical.
Virtru is a leading data protection platform provider that stands at the intersection of security and privacy. They help more than 5,000 organizations, large and small, across almost every industry, protect data wherever it’s created or shared so they can collaborate with confidence.
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