State Chief Data Officer Outlines Vision and Goals for California’s Data Strategy

Published On: August 13, 2020

Speaking to a Zoom audience of more than 80 people at the CalData Open Meeting on Aug. 12, California Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro outlined the future of statewide data strategy and the goals to ensure its effectiveness moving forward.

While data is a tool commonly used in many communities both private and public, it’s still somewhat of a foreign language to many state workers that could otherwise benefit from its use.

Among the biggest challenges listed by Bonaguro in a survey of state employees, ability to find and access data was the primary obstacle, while inconsistency of data terminology and the actual quality of data also proved to be major roadblocks.

Bonaguro mentioned three major strategic goals that, if achieved, could expand the use and efficiency of data in California. Those goals include: streamlining data access, improving data management and governance, and spurring data use and ability.

While those goals appear fairly straightforward, whether or not they can be achieved will come down to the state’s ability to maintain long-lasting and complete data sets, facilitating the open exchange of data between various agencies, teaching data skills, and hiring dedicated data professionals.

Of course, the implementation of data skills and jobs are likely a luxury given the current budget, Bonaguro admitted with a laugh.

“I’m pushing that off, unless something radically changes about my resources right now.”

Bonaguro made one important distinction when discussing exactly who should be driving data work within a department. While technology staff can provide the tools necessary to make use of data, the impetus for driving data must come from business staff.

“In areas where business leadership and executive leadership was engaged, [those surveyed] felt further along,” she said. “This isn’t something you can simply delegate and check off your list.”

If the objective is to create an emphasis on data from the top down, spurring on leadership may include adding the position of data executive to all departments.

“CHSS has a chief data officer, DMV hired a chief data officer . . . Is the chief data officer something we should promote across the state? I don’t know yet, but it’s something we can think about.”

Budget permitting, the push to incorporate data in all aspects of state government has begun.

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at