While IT transformation can result in many benefits, such as enhanced data analytical capabilities, data-driven customer insights and an increase in overall agility, ultimately providing a better user experience, none of this will matter unless integrity and security protections are in place, which is why data governance should be the top priority at every federal agency and military IT departments.

Here’s why.

Data governance provides the principles, policies, processes, framework, tools, and metrics required to manage data at all levels, from creation to consumption, effectively. When implemented, data governance establishes a pathway for integrity by having effective quality management and in meeting compliance standards in all applicable privacy and security measures.

Through such features, data is made trustworthy, which is key in any IT transformation. Government agencies and military divisions need to not only integrate and curate volumes of high-priority data, but they need to have the ability to identify new opportunities for its use. Specifically, it is imperative that federal CIOs and CTOs leverage artificial intelligence to translate rich, real-time data into usable information that can lead to meaningful decision-making.

Here are four ways agencies can position their IT departments for strong data governance programs:

Data stewardship

There is a misconception that keeping data organized and even siloed will make it easier to limit access. It doesn’t. The best practice is to define roles and responsibilities by assigning data stewards, data custodians, and a set of functional data managers. This gives agencies accountability throughout the entire data lifecycle.

And by having compliant data teams, data governance will have structure and a clean data set for analysis while maintaining the underlying data. This established data group of individuals is a first step in building a virtual data toolset to keep data organized, accurate, and verified throughout the lifecycle of an analytics or data-centric project.

Logical Data Fabric

Military IT and federal agency data is distributed among various applications and analytical stores. Integrating an agency’s data into a single repository is neither practical nor feasible. Logical data fabric is an emerging data management architecture that provides a unified and intelligent data access, security and governance solution for distributed data without requiring physical data consolidation.

Through integration technologies like automation and augmentation, federated governance, as well as activation of metadata, a logical data fabric architecture enables dynamic and intelligent data orchestration across a distributed landscape, creating a network of instantly available information to power a business. It facilitates the use of data as an enterprise asset. A data fabric ensures that various kinds of data can be successfully combined, accessed, and governed both efficiently and effectively.

Changes and budgets come together

To successfully implement a digital transformation, federal agencies must undergo changes at many levels, prioritizing strengthening security, safety, and risk tolerance. That’s one of the major benefits of logical data fabric for federal agencies that are modernizing to cloud-based infrastructure.

While infrastructure costs and workforce retraining will require larger investments, cost savings is an inherent benefit of implementing a logical data fabric, enough to offset any incremental investments.

Be prepared

Consider a logical/virtual data management platform that offers a technology-agnostic approach to centralized data security policy implementation and simplifies the process of defining and updating data security policies. This decouples the data security policy from the underlying data repositories and implements business rules at the logical data layer, defined once and applied across all systems.

In an age of increasing complexity in all aspects of data technology and architecture, federal agencies and military IT departments need to simplify their approach to data governance to succeed. The ideas discussed here can simplify and significantly improve any data governance initiative. By leveraging data virtualization technology, agencies can take advantage of these ideas and transform their approaches to data management and data governance to achieve more efficient operations and secure data access.

Syed Rasheed is a technology strategist at Denodo, a provider of data integration and management support services to militaries and governments.

Have an opinion?

This article is an Op-Ed and the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please email C4ISRNET and Federal Times Senior Managing Editor Cary O’Reilly.

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