Data Governance Task Force​

Building Responsible Data Governance in Cities and Counties

The Who

The task force is a community of public officials, city and county staff members, and researchers from across the country meeting on a quarterly basis

The What

The task force is creating multi-faceted policy and practice tools to inform, guide, and facilitate responsible data governance by cities and counties


Sharing effective approaches to policy development and implementation tools in a “community of practice” manner, as envisioned in the formation of the MetroLab Network Data Governance Task Force that produced this document enhances the ability of local governments to both use data to provide increasingly efficient and beneficial public services, and to protect the public and mitigate risks of misuses of data.

Model Data Governance Policy & Practice Guide - Web

Explore more of the guide online as a website.

How It Started

This project arose from a collaboration between the city of Kansas City, MO and an interdisciplinary Law, Technology, and Public Policy course at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). The city sought to understand both privacy laws and sunshine laws from the citizen perspective, and the student teams and mentors involved co-produced a discussion draft of a "Model Data Handling Policy" addressing those matters and also containing a set of principles, policies, procedures and checklists regarding a city’s responsibilities and opportunities with data handling across its operations.

This draft was workshopped by members of the MetroLab Network at the 2019 and 2022 annual summits, and is now serving as the foundation for the task force to build a national Data Governance Community-of-Practice and to co-develop and curate a new policy and practice guide document that will assist communities in establishing best-practices for their data.

The Goal

This team produced a document called the Model Data Governance Policy & Practice Guide (MDGPPG), which has annotated text and appendices containing practice tools, form documents, checklists, and protocols, addressing key elements of city and county data governance.

The Focus Areas

The MDGPPG document that is being produced is divided into the following 6 Focus Areas. Expand each Focus Area to see what it entails. Collectively the co-working group for the project currently involves representatives from 17 cities or counties and approximately 40 individuals.

Agreed upon definitions are key to any legal or policy regime. Definitions allow practitioners to classify technologies and standardize operations. A core set of definitions reflecting municipal uses of data will be vital to creating opportunities to standardize practices across departments and jurisdictions. This focus area seeks to establish definitions and core principles to standardize language and approaches to interdepartmental and inter-jurisdictional data sharing.

Just as some information is more valuable than other information, some information is inherently more sensitive. The gradations between the most sensitive and lease sensitive data should be reflected in the integrity and accountability measures municipal offices adopt. This focus area will offer for consideration a standard taxonomy around different data classifications, as well as some potential variations, and outline the proper measures cities should adopt to enforce consistency in operating procedures.

While protecting data from outside threats is a major concern of data governance, just as important is systematizing internal departmental procedures and improving delivery of public services. This Focus Group will-develop recommended policies and procedures that seek to ensure data is interoperable with municipal systems, accessible to appropriate staff, and appropriately protected access by unauthorized  individuals, with adaptable features to accommodate varying governmental structures.

As data collection by municipal governments has increased, so have concerns over the impact of collection activities on personal and community notions of privacy. Recent cybersecurity incidents faced by municipal governments also highlight the importance of strong information security and privacy preserving practices when governments collect sensitive personal information. This focus area will produce recommendations regarding privacy and security standards and protocols for intra- and inter-departmental data processing activities and for interactions with the public that involve gathering, storing, using and/or using data.

Much of the data used for municipal services and planning are collected and processed by vendors rather than the local government body itself. Sharing municipal data with independent researchers can also be vital to studying and ameliorating public problems. To assist municipal procurement of these data services and collaborations, this focus area will develop standard language for data sharing agreements that clearly outline rights and responsibilities of service providers entrusted with municipal data.

Meaningful data governance at the municipal level must be responsive to the desires and concerns of city or county residents. The daily activities of municipal residents are monitored, recorded, and processed to improve a litany of local services, but this must be done with community input to avoid unlawful and unconscionable invasions of personal and community privacy and also to make useful data available to community members in appropriate ways. This focus area seeks to establish transparency, oversight, and accountability measures that give communities autonomy over decisions that affect data collected by municipal governments and opportunities to engage in policy and practices discussions and deliberations with government staff and decision makers and other stakeholders.