Data Governance

Background: Information in any form is a valuable asset that can be used to inform strategic decisions. Electronic information is stored and processed in a complex system of data elements that are combined to answer business questions. Data elements include fields, labels, tables, views, queries, and reports that are processed very literally and unambiguously by the information system; however, human language is rich with nuanced synonyms and words used interchangeably. A simple human business question can yield a range of answers depending on how the human language was interpreted and articulated. Led by IT and IR, UW Oshkosh is implementing a Data Governance program, as are many institutions in the United States. A Data Governance program is a never-ending process of information management that will over time transform the university into an evidence-based culture.

Purpose: The purpose of Data Governance is to ensure that the same question gets the same answer through the management of information as an institutional asset. Data Governance is the framework by which data in an information system is consistently and clearly defined and managed in support of planning, reporting, and decision making. It involves specific roles and responsibilities, tools and techniques, processes and procedures, standards and oversight throughout the university.

Recent: Core planning team has drafted the roles and responsibilities and an initial data dictionary and vetted the program beginnings with the Student Information System Technical Advisory Group (SISTAG). Additional members from SISTAG have joined the planning team.

Next: The team is populating the data dictionary with routinely-shared reports as a starting point. The reports will shape the early selection of other data elements that need to be included and defined in the dictionary. After some initial populating of the dictionary, the team expects that new processes will be realized. The existing Data Governance policy will be revised to reflect new practices and requirements.