GAO IT Executive on Federal data investigations

“Federal agencies are expanding their data sources and tools – adding data analytics – used to conduct investigations. Data is a blessing and a curse, but some entities are using it successfully, and changing their approach to suit both the trove of incoming information and the varying needs for it.

That is according to Timothy Persons, chief scientist and managing director for the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics Team at the Government Accountability Office. He said data is nothing new to investigations but what has changed is the computing infrastructure around it…”

“One of the primary obstacles to expanding use of data is the curation, knowing what data is useful and from a quality source. Persons said the current fears about misinformation on the internet means it is important to triage the data that agencies access. Agencies need a governance strategy that allows maximum access to those who need data, and limited access for those who should not have it. That curation also requires a data centric strategy, which is an evolution that Persons said mirrors the rise of chief data officers versus traditional chief information officers…”

“‘Classically, from a chief information officer perspective, all data is like – it’s zeros and ones running across my computing infrastructure, whether it’s networks or switches, or boxes, and so on,’ Persons said. ‘But the chief data officer perspective is different. It’s saying, well that’s potential or perhaps real asset, it’s a renewable asset, I could go back to that data source later on, I can reuse it, add to it, etc.’

To make that determination of when the data used for an investigation is complete, he said keep the principle of ‘sufficiency’ top of mind. Have a threshold for when the data is satisfactory, but also have the end goal for the investigation itself in view at all times. Think of a federal prosecutor whose job is to use the power of the state to incarcerate someone, he suggested – it is paramount they stake their case on good data that adheres to constitutional law and was investigated properly…” Read the full article here.

Source: Knowing when to dig, when to draw the line in federal data investigations – By Amelia Brust, April 15, 2021. Federal News Network.


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