CIO Strategy Council of Canada Publishes First-of-Its-Kind Standard on Data Stewardship

The word Data is written on a window. A white building can be seen in the window’s reflection.
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

As the volume and complexity of data continues to grow, so too does our need for innovative processes, systems and people that can help us collect, store, handle and use data responsibly. Data stewards and data stewardship will be of vital importance as organizations re-imagine their efforts to unlock greater value from data. This will require new kinds of training, tools and standards.

CIO Strategy Council of Canada, accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, has published the country’s first national standard on data stewardship. The standard, CAN/CIOSC 100–7:2022: Operating Model for Responsible Data Stewardship, is part of the set of published standards on Data Governance and seeks to incorporate data stewardship into how data-driven organizations operate.

The standard specifies the “minimum requirements for data institutions to engage in responsible data stewardship.” Within this standard, data stewardship is, itself, defined as “collecting, retaining, using, destroying and disclosing data, and as part of that, making decisions about who has access to data, for what purpose and to whose benefit.” The standard is based on a collection of expert resources, including The GovLab’s Data Stewards Network.

The GovLab, referenced as a key source in the establishment of the standard, is greatly encouraged by this initiative. The GovLab’s work on articulating the three goals and five functions of data stewardship emerged from its research conducted on data collaboratives. It is affirming to see that our findings on the goals (act, protect, collaborate) and functions (engagement, coordination, audit and assessment, communicate and nurture) that help define the work and purpose of data stewards, are reflected in the requirements of the new standard. These requirements related to leadership, legal, accountability, management, data user requirements and public and stakeholder engagement.

It is also worth noting that many of the requirements within the new data stewardship standard require organizations to reference and implement the requirements published within the standard Third Party Access to Data. This cross-referencing across the data governance standards not only reduces duplication and minimizes confusion but showcases how standards need to be designed to work in collaboration with another in order to support a flourishing data ecosystem.

The Operating Model for Responsible Data Stewardship standard is just one of many actions that is being taken in order to implement the Government of Canada’s strategy to build a robust digital and data-driven economy. Last month, the Government proposed the Digital Charter Implementations Act 2022, a new piece of legislation that would strengthen the protections around how personal data is used within the private sector. The legal framework also aims to introduce new rules that would govern the development and deployment of artificial intelligence, a technology that requires large amounts of data in order to function.

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