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DHS Officials Share Efforts, Challenges in Agency’s Data Use

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Two leading Department of Homeland Security officials discussed ongoing efforts to enhance data use within the agency during a recent Advanced Technology Academic Research Center webcast, Nextgov reported Thursday.

Kathleen Kaplan and Elizabeth Puchek, chief data officers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, respectively, said their organizations already improved how they handle information since a 2019 law that created their roles.

Kaplan shared that FEMA is currently ongoing a data refresh to sort data entering her agency based on source and quality and Puchek noted that USCIS is also preparing for a similar initiative to maintain the integrity of its database.

Despite progress, the two officials noted several challenges to their data goals such as competition for time and funding with other offices and poor technologies for information sharing between different agencies.

In 2019, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act became law, mandating 24 Chief Financial Officers Act federal civilian agencies to establish chief data offices.