Chief Data Officer Playbook

Start Date: 2018

Topic: Data + Digital

Stage: Exploratory

Summary + Problem Statement

In 2018, the Beeck Center partnered with Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights on several high-level convenings of federal Chief Data Officers (CDOs) with multi-sector leaders from across government, civil society, and industry. One product of this work was an easily accessible CDO playbook that outlined some of the key opportunities and challenges for CDOs.

In 2018, the Beeck Center partnered with Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights on several high-level convenings of federal Chief Data Officers (CDOs. We found that this emerging role lacked consistency and resources. As a result of these convenings, we identified a clear need for an easily accessible guide that would help CDOs more clearly define their roles, learn and identify emerging trends, and become more effective.

“Public sector data are growing increasingly important for a variety of reasons, including public pressure for more transparency and accountability,” said William D. Eggers, executive director, Center for Government Insights, Deloitte. “The government collects and produces an abundance of data, on topics ranging from health care and housing to domestic and national security. In addition to creating more efficient operations, effective application of this kind of data has the potential to improve government operations. The approaches outlined in this playbook can help the government use this data to gain greater insight, optimize resources, and improve mission delivery.”

Project Elements


A playbook launched by Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights and Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation provides insights into the role of the chief data officer (CDO) and how it has evolved in today’s federal government. The Chief Data Officer in Government: A CDO Playbook, consists of seven chapters, focusing on the key issues and trends affecting public sector data while also examining strategies CDOs could apply.


“The CDO playbook is written for not just government CDOs, but for government executives as well, to provide an overview of the types of functions that CDOs across the country are performing,” said Sonal Shah, executive director, Beeck Center. “The hope is for this report to help catalyze the further evolution of CDOs within government and provide an accessible guide for executives who are still evaluating the creation of these positions.”

Each of the seven chapters explores some of the toughest challenges CDOs face, and provides strategic insights on how to counteract them.

  • Turning public data to the public good;
  • Connecting data to residents through data storytelling; 
  • Promoting machine learning in government;
  • Overcoming obstacles to open data-sharing;
  • Implementing the DATA Act for greater transparency and accessibility;
  • CDOs, health data and the Open Science movement;
  • Managing algorithmic risks.

People on this project

Hollie Russon-Gilman

Fellow, Data + Digital
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Christopher Wilson

Fellow, Data + Digital
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