California chief data officer announces statewide data strategy

Published On: October 5, 2020

California has a new statewide data strategy that boldly challenges some established ideas in the civic tech community, Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro announced on Thursday.

“The concept of a strategy is overused and often trite. But if used wisely, it can lead to durable change and it starts with goals.  The mantra ‘the strategy is delivery’ frequently appears in the civic tech and data space. And while the delivery of a strategy is important, that alone is not enough,” she said in an article she posted on Medium.

The 21-page document outlines a strategy, goals, governance, and overall approach to California state government’s use of data to serve people of the Golden State.   As a first such strategy, it is a “necessary best guess,” that the state plans to iterate and learn as it’s implemented.

“California’s statewide data strategy is structured around the analogy that in order to successfully navigate the ‘data landscape’ we need to intentionally build the roads, craft the rules of the road, and boost the drivers. Much like in the real world, we want to avoid data roads that lead to nowhere, are poorly maintained, or confuse our drivers,” according to the introduction.

She states that goals answer the question “are we there yet” and that a well-written strategy serves as glue, alignment, and a filter. A goal that is not aligned with the strategy should either be discarded or placed low on the list of priorities.

High-level goals include:

  • Goal 1. Streamline data access – build the data roads
  • Goal 2. Improve data management and governance – craft the rules of the road
  • Goal 3. Spur data use and ability –  boost the drivers

“Good use of data is the tool we can use to navigate that complexity and ensure that our programs and services are working well for all Californians,” says Bonaguro in her article.

She gave a preview of the strategy in August via a Zoom with the CalData community. 


About the Author: Jaivon Grant

Jaivon Grant covers energy and technology issues. He is a former journalist and political commentator with Our Weekly in Los Angeles, CA. He can be reached at jaivon at