How federal agencies should approach data literacy

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Andrew Churchill, vice president of Federal at Qlik and Neal Smith, VP of the Digital Service Innovation Center at Salient CRGT, discuss the importance of data literacy in the federal government.


Because the President’s Management Agenda places an importance on leveraging data, a necessary skill for future federal leaders is data literacy. Because the government collects enormous amounts of information on a daily basis, knowing how to learn from and use that data to make improvements should be imperative for agencies.

 

“It is about bringing people who understand how to leverage data into the mix. That’s been a challenge and some of these policy obstacles have gotten in the way,” said Andrew Churchill, Vice President of Federal at Qlik. “The government has a 2‑fold obligation when it’s looking at data literacy. One, to empower those operators and analysts about how to work with it, but two, how to inform senior leadership, all the way up to policy-making leadership, down to a mission owner leadership, of their obligations in protecting it?”

 

“The government has been in this business so long, there’s a tidal wave of data right now. A business owner knows his business inside and out, and data then begins to emerge organically. He can carry a lot of that in his brain so there’s this check and balance, between the data and his own intuitive sense of what’s going on,” said Neal Smith, VP of the Digital Service Innovation Center at Salient CRGT.  “The agencies are faced with situations where it is so massive, parsing through it to get that grand truth is in itself a challenge and time doesn’t allow them to dig into it with the curiosity that I would say is necessary to really be data literate.”