Mississippi is delving deeper into the use of data for policy solutions thanks to the recent formation of the Mississippi Data Management Working Group.
The nine-member group of government executives is tasked with the review of Mississippi state government’s databases and data accessibility. The group “shall research and report on issues related to the quality, utility and accessibility of data maintained” by the state, according to the bill, and will have authority to “establish any policies and procedures it determines are necessary and proper for the completion of its responsibilities.” The bill that created the group, which takes effect on July 1, requires the body to present a public report by Dec. 1, 2018.
Craig Orgeron, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services and member of the working group, said members will examine foundational issues including inventory of data assets, conflation of data across agencies, and hiring of new talent.
“The report will really address — or really put down more formally — something that we all know, which is how powerful data is and what it can do in the policy scene to solve problems,” Orgeron said.
Orgeron, who is also the state’s chief information officer, said the group’s first official meeting is tentatively scheduled for July 18. Among the first priority topics of discussion is an inventory of the state’s data. The CIO said he plans to find strategies for educating and recruiting data scientists for state jobs. The group may also examine ways to share data across agencies.
“Beyond setting the tone in this initial working group, I would imagine that the group may ponder initial kinds of things that could or should be done by looking at standardization and maybe even looking at setting up an open data portal,” Orgeron said.