RD329 - Commonwealth Data Standardization: Interim Plan - Reported Pursuant to Item 427 of the 2012 Appropriation Act -- November 1, 2012
Item 427 C of the 2012 Appropriation Act requires the Secretary of Technology to develop data standards for information that is commonly used by state agencies. This report constitutes the initial plan required by the Item, which the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) has prepared on behalf of the Secretary of Technology. The final plan will be submitted in July 2013.
Background and Statutory History
The 2012 budget language is closely related to an Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) May 2012 audit, which found that only some of the data standards required by earlier legislation are in place. The APA also identified certain factors which they assert may have hindered data standards development, including inconsistent leadership under the previous governance structure and a lack of staff.
Another disincentive also may be created by the lack of clarity regarding whether agencies can legally exchange data. To further the development of data standards, the APA’s 2012 audit indicated that VITA should now be responsible for all data standardization efforts.
As part of the final plan required by Item 427 C, VITA will propose a development process and examine several related issues, including
• whether changes are needed to VITA’s statutory authority or staffing resources;
• how the relative subject matter expertise within VITA and other agencies can be leveraged, while balancing their respective responsibilities;
• what governance model for data standardization is most appropriate; and,
• the degree to which a combination of data standards and data exchange standards should be used, since statute provides for both.
Business Uses of Data and Data Standardization
Data standardization enforces a common set of meanings, vocabularies and data elements for the exchange of information across diverse systems. Standardizing data enables reuse of data elements, reduces data redundancy and limits unnecessary variability in data content. In turn, data standardization allows government to achieve greater efficiency in data management and a higher return on information technology investments.
To meet the requirements of Item 427 C, VITA will examine several strategies for data standardization and implementation of standardized data. First, VITA will explore the two primary methods for data standardization: data standards and data exchange standards. Both methods establish agreements on data elements, definitions and specifications for enterprise data. However, data standards define the structure of data at rest within a system, while data exchange standards define how data will be transformed during data extraction and sharing between systems. VITA’s analysis will determine which projects cited in the Item may be most appropriate for data standards and which may be most appropriate for data exchange standards.
Second, VITA will explore whether Web services and services offered in the Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) environment may be a viable alternative to data standardization to achieve the business objectives established in the Item. Web and SOA services enforce shared meanings, vocabularies and data elements by publishing data through a standardized Web-based interface. Using Web and SOA services, agencies no longer have to store their own data but may design their applications and solutions to “call” to the data published in the service. This enforces the use of standardized data across systems consuming the service, reduces storage of redundant data, and ensures that the data are the most up to date, since the Web and SOA services are maintained by the data-owning agency.
Third, VITA will build upon its experience in implementing the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) solution under the Electronic Health and Human Resources (eHHR) Program as a means of standardizing data through the use of a shared services platform. The EDM solution will feature “hubs” for persons and organizations, with each hub maintaining matched sets of records from agency source systems. Agencies onboarded onto the EDM solution will be able to reuse core data elements for person and organization data based on the matched set of records for each entity. The core data elements will be standardized based on the adopted EDM Person Data Exchange Standard and the forthcoming EDM General Organization Data Exchange Standard.
Current Status of Data Standardization
The APA noted in its May 2012 audit report that VITA had made progress toward data standardization. The progress may be categorized into three primary areas:
• data standardization in compliance with statutory requirements pursuant to the
2008 Appropriation Act;
• data standardization in support of enterprise data-management solutions funded under the Electronic Health and Human Resources Program; and,
• data standardization in line with industry-wide efforts in the health IT domain. (To date, the Secretary of Technology has adopted data standards for two of the seven business areas cited in the 2008 Appropriation Act. In addition, the Secretary has adopted 91 data exchange standards as Commonwealth standards in other domains.)
In addition to the progress made on data standardization, the APA recognized VITA’s effort to establish a data governance function within its Enterprise Solutions and Governance Directorate. Under the new Commonwealth Data Governance (CDG) team, VITA has initiated an overhaul of the Commonwealth’s Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) governance and oversight framework. This framework consists of policies, standards and guidelines for data standardization and governance activities.
Since the APA’s report, the Secretary of Technology has adopted new language for the Commonwealth’s Enterprise Architecture Policy 200-02. The new language provides a more robust definition of EIA and establishes an EIA maturity model to guide the Commonwealth toward a desired future state in four EIA program areas: data governance, data standardization, data asset management and data sharing. VITA will implement the new EIA elements in the EA policy through a Commonwealth Data Strategy. VITA has integrated into its Corrective Action Plan (CAP) strategies, aligned with APA’s recommendations, to achieve the existing data-standardization requirements pursuant to the 2008 Appropriation Act and the new requirements codified in the 2012 Appropriation Act.
Item 427 C.1 Element
In compliance with Item 427 C.1, and on behalf of the Secretary of Technology, VITA will work with Cabinet Secretaries and their agencies to develop a strategy for standardizing the types of data outlined in the Item: “…citizen-centric data, personnel, recipient information, and other common sources of information gathered by the Commonwealth and in use by systems set out within this item.” Projects cited in the Item will be reviewed by VITA’s Commonwealth Data Governance, IT Investment Management and Project Management Division staff to assess whether the data managed in the system would be in-scope for the standardization requirements.
A core element of the implementation strategy will be to migrate systems determined to be in-scope to the Item, and not already designed based on an adopted standards, into conformance with the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). NIEM started in 2005 as an outgrowth of the U.S. Department of Justice's Global Justice XML Data Model project and has become a collaborative partnership across levels of government and private industry. NIEM has been endorsed by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) as the set of standards and governance structure for agencies at all levels of government to adopt for exchanging citizen-centric data. VITA will apply the NIEM cost model and project-planning model to estimate the fiscal impact and projected schedule for NIEM implementation. VITA will present the results from the cost estimation and project planning in July 2013 as part of the final plan submittal pursuant to the Item.
Item 427 C.2 Element
In compliance with Item 427 C.2, and on behalf of the Secretary of Technology, VITA will work with Cabinet Secretaries and their agencies to develop a strategy for (1) determining which standards implemented by projects cited in the Item should be adopted as Commonwealth standards and (2) ensuring that the projects cited in the Item comply with adopted data standards, data exchange standards or alternate strategy for implementing standardized data.
This strategy will involve coordination between VITA Commonwealth Data Governance, IT Investment Management (ITIM) and Project Management Division (PMD) staff. Projects cited in the Item will be reviewed by ITIM and PMD staff to assess whether the data managed in the system may be in-scope for data standardization or alternate strategy. In-scope systems then will undergo a full review by CDG staff to identify which are implementing standardized data. In-scope systems implementing standardized data will be evaluated by CDG staff to determine which standards may be adopted as Commonwealth standards.
VITA will apply a cost-estimation model and project-planning model to estimate the fiscal impact and projected schedule for implementing the standardization strategies required under Item 427 C.2. VITA will present the results from the cost-estimation and project planning in July 2013 as part of the final plan submittal pursuant to the Item.