GSA releases finalized federal data skills catalog and ethics framework

The living documents will guide agencies developing data management competencies and officials in making ethical decisions.

The General Services Administration released a finalized data skills catalog and ethics framework to assist agencies in developing data management competencies and officials in making ethical decisions under the Federal Data Strategy.

The Federal Chief Data Officers Council will maintain the skills catalog and work with the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy to review and update the ethics framework every 24 months.

Publishing both documents fulfills Actions 13 and 14 of the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan, after months of work by governments data experts.

The catalog consists of two parts: a common vocabulary of data roles and skills in the federal data ecosystem, as well as select data training and course opportunities across agencies. Resources are also provided to help agencies develop training programs of their own.


A focus group of data experts from nine agencies created the catalog.

Meanwhile, GSA formed an interagency team of 14 leaders across government to craft a framework that will guide the ethical acquisition, management and use of data.

The framework has seven tenets to promote accountability among officials throughout the data lifecycle:

  • uphold applicable statutes, regulations, professional practices, and ethical standards;
  • respect the public, individuals, and communities;
  • respect privacy and confidentiality;
  • act with honesty, integrity, and humility;
  • hold oneself and others accountable;
  • promote transparency; and
  • stay informed of developments in the fields of data management and data science.

The framework also includes two use cases of ethical considerations with data encountered in federal work: artificial intelligence and bias, as well as dissemination and impacts. The open-ended scenarios are intended to make readers think about the issues at play.


Agencies completed 15 milestones within the Federal Data Strategy 2020 Action Plan as of Sept. 30. Of the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies, 19 took initial steps to identify the data they need to answer priority questions.

Meanwhile, 36 agencies documented how their data governance bodies receive authority, and 32 participated in data maturity assessment trainings. Of those, 20 agencies documented the outcomes of their initial assessments.

The Federal Technology Investment Management Community of Practice developed an IT spending transparency maturity assessment model, while the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology completed a report on data reporting best practices.

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