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Security, workflow efficiency, and scalability remain top reasons for federal government agencies to embrace the cloud, but leaders are finding new issues to consider as cloud computing evolves and becomes more of a mission-enabling capability.

A top consideration, how to manage data so that it stays accessible and usable, was the subject of a recent GovExec TV episode with leadership from Maximus, the Department of State, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

According to Ian Fowlie, Chief of Enterprise IT Engineering at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Chief Information Office, the agency focuses on data centricity, readiness of artificial intelligene / machine learning (AI/ML), and interoperability across agencies and allied partners. Achieving these goals roll up to strong data governance and decision advantage, which is essential in contested environments where cloud connectivity is not always available.

Accomplishing that level of capability with information requires an enterprise data strategy, said John Mandell, Managing Director of the National Security Practice at Maximus. He outlined three considerations for ensuring a viable data plan:

  • Modernizing applications that can process the large data sets captured in edge environments
  • Implementing access controls such as a zero trust architecture
  • Deploying AI/ML models and algorithms using high quality data so that leadership trusts the results

Dr. Nanyie Temlong, the Department of State’s Director of Global Product, shared the data governance challenges her agency faces when supporting worldwide bureaus. Creating and consuming lots of classified data has increased efforts to secure data while maintaining its usage across applications. This includes putting in place strong policies for data access control, monitoring, retention, deletion, and regulatory compliance.

The fourth panelist, Maximus’s Cloud Solutions Leader Frank Reyes, described how some frameworks for data governance exist from NIST, for example, but more innovation in automating compliance will simplify strategies for agencies. For example, systems will comply with enterprise policies more easily when data is captured and labeled with metadata.

At the conclusion, the panelists predicted how data governance in the cloud would evolve:

“We need decentralized data governance because the government is too large for top-down management of data.” – Ian Fowlie

“We’ll focus on privacy, security, and automated data management with tools like AI/ML.” – Dr. Nanyie Temlong

“We’ll establish foundations so that we can trust the data needed to operate across and between agencies; that will be critical in the next two-year view of data to enable mission outcomes across government.” – John Mandell

“We’ll have applications designed to use only the data they need, they’ll hold it only for that transaction, and they’ll securely process encrypted data.” – Frank Reyes

Hear the full discussion here.