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The Evolving Role of the Chief Data Officer

Consolidated Report on the Evolving Role of the Chief Data Officer in the Government of Canada

By Ryan Androsoff and Peter Bruce


This report presents the results from the study of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role in the Government of Canada conducted by the Institute on Governance (IOG). The study was developed to inform the emerging structure and governance model for the CDO function in Government of Canada departments and to provide recommendations for strengthening this function. This work took place at a critical time in the evolution of the CDO role in the Government of Canada as CDOs are leading the move to more data enabled program delivery, policy decisions, and regulatory enforcement. Indeed, data is at the core of everything that the government does. Be it economic modelling, policy development, service delivery to citizens and businesses, emergency management, or providing transfer payments to other levels of government, all the functions of government rely on the availability and interpretability of high-quality, timely, relevant data.

The study focused on four Government of Canada departments, namely: Health Canada (HC), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and Transport Canada (TC). It consisted of a series of surveys, interviews, and workshops that took place from September 2021 to February 2022. This analysis was combined with inputs from other departments as well as expertise and research from the IOG to establish a set of key findings and recommendations for CDOs in the Government of Canada. The report describes how the CDO role is evolving in the Government of Canada and provides recommendations on how it can be strengthened to deliver on departmental data strategies. Our ten recommendations that build on the key findings are presented in three categories that we have called Engage, Enable, and Evolve. We expect that implementing the most relevant recommendations for a specific organizational context will improve the effectiveness of the CDO function and support broader digital transformation goals.