Data Stewardship Re-Imagined — Capacities and Competencies

Blog and presentation by Stefaan Verhulst: “In ways both large and small, COVID-OVID-19 has forced us to re-examine every aspect of our political, social, and economic systems. Among the many lessons, policymakers have learned is that existing methods for using data are often insufficient for our most pressing challenges. In particular, we need to find new, innovative ways of tapping into the potential of privately held and siloed datasets that nonetheless contain tremendous public good potential, including complementing and extending official statistics. Data collaboratives are an emerging set of methods for accessing and reusing data that offer tremendous opportunities in this regard. In the last five years, we have studied and initiated numerous data collaboratives, in the process assembling a collection of over 200 example case studies to better understand their possibilities.

Among our key findings is the vital importance and essential role that needs to be played by Data Stewards.

Data stewards do not represent an entirely new profession; rather, their role could be understood as an extension and re-definition of existing organizational positions that manage and interact with data. Traditionally, the role of a data officer was limited either to data integrity or the narrow context of internal data governance and management, with a strong emphasis on technical competencies. This narrow conception is no longer sufficient, especially given the proliferation of data and the increasing potential of data sharing and collaboration. As such, we call for a re-imagination of data stewardship to encompass a wider range of functions and responsibilities, directed at leveraging data assets toward addressing societal challenges and improving people’s lives.

DATA STEWARDSHIP: functions and competencies to enable access to and re-use of data for public benefit in a systematic, sustainable, and responsible way.

In our vision, data stewards are professionals empowered to create public value (including official statistics) by re-using data and data expertise, identifying opportunities for productive cross-sectoral collaboration, and proactively requesting or enabling functional access to data, insights, and expertise. Data stewards are active in both the public and private sectors, promoting trust within and outside their organizations. They are essential to data collaboratives by providing functional access to unlock the potential of siloed data sets. In short, data stewards form a new — and essential — link in the data value chain….(More)”.