Governance Structure

Departments and their Executive Sponsors should engage in an internal organizational review and approval process prior to data being published on their portal. This internal review could leverage existing governance models within your organization. Data management is a business decision. Publishing contributors help drive the portal toward increasing data content, quality, and accuracy, as well as ensuring compliance with all security, privacy, confidentiality laws, rules, regulations, and intellectual property rights requirements.

The suggested broad data governance levels takes a multi-level approach that provides oversight in an efficient/streamlined process. Figure 2 provides a graphical representation of the model.

Governance Structure

How the Governance Model Works — Overview

Each publishing contributor will provide a Data Coordinator that will lead the data preparation process. This individual will facilitate initial solicitations for data publication suggestions and subsequent preparation activities within their organization. Recommendations for publication of data will be submitted from the Coordinator level to the strategic level (i.e., the executive leadership team and/or policy committee) for decisions related to data prioritization and publication. Approvals will be elevated to the Agency level of governance when the organization’s executive leadership team deems it warranted. This plan constitutes the “vertical” governance for open data.

Governance can also include a “horizontal” model. The California Open Data Workgroup is meant to ensure uniform approaches to data publication and standards as a way to facilitate interoperability and sharing among publishing entities. The Open Data Workgroup is led by portal owner and centers around team members, representing publishing contributors and their respective programs.

Example of existing governance models can be found in California Health and Human Services Agency, California Natural Resources, and CalHR.

Roles within the Governance Structure

Data Steward

The Data Steward is the person most knowledgeable about the data including the sources, collection methods, and limitations. They clean, edit, and upload the data for an organization on the portal and communicate with the Data Coordinator for publishing approval.

Data Coordinator

Each organization will designate a Data Coordinator. The Data Coordinator should be an individual who:

  • Has authority equivalent to that of a Program Manager or higher;
  • Can identify appropriate persons with comprehensive knowledge of data and resources in use by their organization;
  • Assumes responsibility for their organization’s compliance with the Open Data Handbook, as well as data de-identification guidelines (which can be found here: CHHS Data De-Identification Guidelines), and future directives which may be needed to support the open data portal;
  • Ensures that guidelines and tools, established by governance in the Open Data Handbook, are applied to aggregate data for public reporting that: (1) adequately minimizes risk of re-identification, maximizing security and confidentiality and (2) produces meaningful information.

The Data Coordinator acts as a liaison between internal Information Technology staff, organizational programs and leadership, and portal owners. As such, the Data Coordinator is best positioned to convey to the appropriate parties any specific needs of the open data portal and program (such as data formatting or defining a structure that is optimal for publication). Insofar as organizations vary in terms of size, functions, and complexity, larger organizations may also identify individuals within specific sub-organizations to assist the organization’s Data Coordinator.

Executive Leadership

The executive leadership team and policy-making committees within partnering organizations will be responsible for ensuring alignment of their relevant strategic goals regarding data publication priorities on the open data portal. In addition, executive leadership will ensure their organization’s compliance with this handbook and all approval processes set forth herein.

Agency Executive Leadership

Agency executive leadership is responsible for providing support to its respective organizations to ensure that they are in alignment with relevant strategic goals in regard to data publication priorities.

Portal Owner

The Open Data Portal owner is responsible for reviewing the technical validity of the final submission. This includes ensuring that the metadata, data dictionary and dataset descriptions are complete and functional.

CalData & Open Data Workgroup


GovOps will establish a governance model that includes both an executive quarterly sessions (CalData) as well as an open data workgroup made up of representatives from each partnering organization that publishes data on a Open Data Portal.


CalData is a professional network for data curious government individuals and partners where they can share best practices and information about open data, data sharing, data engagement, training and development, and data driven performance improvement. Read the full CalData Charter.


  • Executive staff within the Government Operations Agency (GovOps) along with CDT will lead the CalData meetings with the support from other Executive Sponsors.

Membership and Responsibility

  • Members will be anyone who is interested in data and enhancing the use of data in government.
  • Participation is voluntary.


  • CalData will meet quarterly, or as needed and meetings will last for about an hour. Logistics will be coordinated by the Government Operations Agency.

Open Data Workgroup

The Open Data Workgroup has the following responsibilities related to Open Data:

  • Identify and standardize the use and governance of information in support of the missions and strategies of partnering organizations
  • Develop and maintain controls on data quality, interoperability and sources to effectively manage risk
  • Identify new kinds, types and sources of data to drive innovation throughout the member’s respective organizations. Define processes for the effective, integrated introduction of new data
  • Organize and lead the tactical open data governance activities at the statewide level to apply four precepts: data principles, standards, policies and guidelines
  • Evolve and institutionalize behaviors for the appropriate use of information within changing privacy needs, ethical values, societal expectations and cultural norms
  • Define, manage, and control master data and metadata management policies, controls, and standards, including reference data

Publication of Data

Each partnering organization shall create a catalog of their publishable data,  prioritize data publication in accordance with guidelines set forth in this handbook, and propose a schedule to make the data available in accordance with State Administrative Manual Section 5160.1.

Review and Approvals:

For each particular data table, publishing contributors should obtain reviews and receive implicit or explicit approval (as applicable) from the individuals listed below. Standardized approval forms should be completed, signed, and a copy of the appropriate form filed with the Data Coordinator’s office prior to data publication. Publishing contributors may determine additional internal approvals and signatures are required, and should include appropriate additional persons in their review and sign-off process (e.g., Public Information Officer).

The Data Coordinator is responsible for obtaining the approvals, including any individual internal approvals from the people below:

Data Steward

The Data Steward is the person who has the greatest familiarity with and knowledge of the data, its contents, and the purpose for the collection of the data. The Data Steward should know the accuracy and currency of the data, and be best able to supply metadata elements describing the data. The Data Steward is responsible for ensuring the overall quality of the data and adherence to publication guidelines, which include the creation of metadata and data dictionaries.

Deputy Director

The Data Coordinator involves the organization’s leadership (i.e. Deputy Director) to validate that the organization wishes to proceed with publication of the data table. The organization’s leadership assumes responsibility for the global review of the data, including an evaluation of sensitivities that may be associated with it.

Legal Counsel

Legal counsel will be in the best position to determine, when needed, whether internal review of the data has been sufficient to ensure compliance with privacy and security requirements, intellectual property rights, and Public Records Act (PRA) responsibilities. Legal counsel may recommend additional consultation with the chief privacy officer, chief security officer, and/or public affairs officer.

Public Information Officer

The PIO will have insight into whether a data release aligns with an organization’s current communication strategy. This is a vital check to ensure the that the organization is communicating with an informed and singular voice.

Director or Designee

The head of the publishing contributor’s organization (or their designee, such as the Data Coordinator) ensures full knowledge within their organization that they are providing data to the open data portal under full authority to do so. It also serves as the ultimate internal control to exercise authority within the organization ensuring that proper evaluations of the data have been completed.