Harvard Ash Center Releases Report Charting New and Revolving Role of Chief Data Officers in Cities

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Harvard_Kennedy_SchoolThe Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School released a white paper by Innovations in American Government Fellow Jane Wiseman highlighting the relatively new and evolving role of chief data officers in cities and states across the country in working to improve social outcomes through data-driven government. “Lessons From Leading CDOs: A Framework for Better Civic Analytics,” examines lessons learned from CDOs in America’s biggest cities alongside observations Wiseman made during numerous field visits across the country while researching how best to foster a data culture in government.

Chief data officers play a critical role in coordinating and facilitating the use of data and analytics in government, and their role is rarely put in the spotlight,” said Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor and Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, and Director of the Civic Analytics Network, a peer group of chief data officers from across the country. “Jane’s work illuminating the multi-faceted role of a CDO will serve as a key resource for officials looking to introduce the position in their government, and for CDOs looking to grow in their existing positions.”

Wiseman’s paper documents the work already done by CDOs who are members of the Civic Analytics Network from the nation’s largest cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. It highlights the key lessons that have led to their respective successes in improving social outcomes by integrating data analytics into municipal government. The lessons include the importance of executive leadership in establishing and empowering the office of the CDO, as well as the need for CDOs to be skilled managers, planners, and data stewards.

Regardless of the level of government, size of the CDO’s team, or the scope of their responsibilities, the paper provides an operational roadmap for how a CDO can operate successfully on the road to more effective, data-driven governance.

The Civic Analytics Network is based at the Ash Center and supported by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Its peer group of CDOs collaborates to advance the use of data analytics and visualization to improve government service delivery and address critical social and urban problems. The report is an independent work product of the Harvard Ash Center; views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the funder.


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