Data is one of the most valuable assets for federal agencies. But in order to maximize its value, data needs to be shared. By sharing data, federal agencies can reduce errors and duplicative efforts, work more efficiently, monitor and evaluate program performance, and achieve better results.
Like the legendary country artist, Reba McEntire, sings:
“Love isn’t love till you give it away
Love isn’t love till it’s free
The love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay
Oh love isn’t love till you give it away.”
They say art imitates life, so who’s to say she isn’t thinking about data collaboration when belting out that ballad? But even if data isn’t the inspiration behind that song, it still illustrates the importance of agencies sharing mission critical data and knowledge in the complex global landscape we live in today.
Barriers to Data Collaboration for Federal Agencies
Organizational structures too often act as barriers to successful data sharing. And it’s no surprise that most federal agencies are living in the dark ages of data silos and duplicate data assets, when what is actually required is curating and making data usable and interoperable. Inefficient data management introduces the risk of inaccessible data and/or unauthorized access, not to mention potential problems in critical areas like compliance, privacy, and security.
Data resides in multiple different environments in different formats across many federal agencies, which means cross-government collaboration demands security and proper protection. Additionally federal agencies must comply with ubiquitous laws and regulations. Without the right tools, protocols, and processes in place, federal agencies are hesitant to share because of privacy concerns. Even with adequate security in place, approval workflows can also be disjointed and slow..
Tools and Technology
But even with data privacy and security measures in place, data is not guaranteed to be protected without robust resources that assess and anonymize the data. And most agencies lack the sufficient tools and technology required.
But even when agencies acquire capable technologies, without a centralized platform, many different software solutions that may or may not be the answer are implemented, resulting in a disparate patchwork of platforms that often don’t scale consistently across agencies.
Good Old Fashioned Fear
The traditional “don’t share data” approach, like most ingrained mindsets, needs to change in order to unlock data’s full potential. When federal agencies allow fear or risk aversion to dictate their data management practices, the result is data hoarding and limitations to data-driven outcomes.
Benefits to Data Collaboration
And yet, even with all barriers to data collaboration across federal agencies, benefits abound.
Now more than ever it’s important for the government’s global workforce to understand the “why” behind sharing data and not just the “how to.” Plus data sharing and collaboration is increasingly important to a federal agency’s success and ability to derive actionable mission insights.
By prioritizing data collaboration, federal agencies:
- Save time and resources by jointly coordinating efforts across agencies
- Eliminate data duplication and operate more efficiently
- Improve communication and connection internally and externally
- Discover available data and make better use of it
- Maximize expert knowledge
- Achieve insights faster
Beyond these benefits, the power of collaboration across federal agencies propels policy outcomes forward and creates a more agile, responsive, data-driven culture in the government space. By augmenting data, federal agencies can make faster, better decisions, learn from others experts in the field, and ultimately deliver on policy objectives.
Best Practices for Data Collaboration
So how can federal agencies create this kind of culture of collaboration that promotes and prioritizes data-sharing?
Shift perspective from whether to share to how to share data.
Data has value and should be shared. It drives better decisions. So maximize its value by creating a culture where collaboration is the norm and maintain a mindset that prioritizes sharing and collaboration.
Having a policy that requires data-sharing is not enough. Instead, agencies need a secure and agile knowledge management solution where multiple teams can tackle a shared project together in the same space. Add in sophisticated data permissioning while enforcing that policy and interoperable data sharing becomes a reality.
Look for people in your organization who can agitate and advocate for increased sharing of data.
They can be the powerful force multipliers who get other employees and agencies on board. Then they need to find the people in the agency controlling the budgets and strategic decisions and educate them on why data collaboration is necessary. Teach them the consequences of not sharing: hoarding of data, blind spots, etc.
Join forces with other federal agencies.
Collabs, in today’s parlance, aren’t just for the fashion and music industry. If influencers and existing consumer brands can multiply their reach and efforts by partnering up, just think what government agencies can do by cooperating.
We need not look any further than the COVID-19 pandemic to see the potential benefits of agencies working together. Had it not been for accelerated data-sharing of health information between agencies like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we might not have a vaccine or effective treatments to fight the virus.
Similarly, after 9/11, government agencies rapidly expanded their intelligence data sharing capabilities in the interest of national security with the goal to see and respond better to potential terrorist attacks.
Both examples prove that increased and responsive data collaboration across federal agencies is both possible and worth promoting, so why not extend the same success to other challenges facing the government?
Find a partner to assist and guide you.
It’s impossible for a single federal agency to address those challenges alone. Agencies must seek to solve these problems together. But they need to partner with experts on data analytics, machine learning, and AI to increase the power and validity of their combined data assets.
And that’s where partners like Tesla Government come in. For example, Tesla Government offers a customized, cloud-based platform that provides visibility and security, enhances collaboration, and upskills any federal agency’s workforce on the importance and implementation of data sharing.
When you partner with our community building and knowledge management teams, we can help your agency overcome the barriers and reap the benefits of sharing information.
Because when Reba sings: love can’t survive when it’s hidden inside, we think she could be talking about data collaboration too.
Contact us today to learn more
See what we can do for you.