Wanted: Data Stewards: (Re-)Defining The Roles and Responsibilities of Data Stewards for an Age of Data Collaboration tackles questions regarding the profile and potential of data stewards to accelerate data innovation and the creation of data collaboratives. It aims to provide an operational roadmap to support the implementation (or expansion) of data stewardship functions in public- and private-sector entities; and to start building a community of expertise.

Moreover, it addresses the tendency to conflate the roles of data stewards with those of individuals or groups who might better be described as chief privacy, chief data or chief security officers. This slippage is perhaps understandable, we need to redefine the role that is somewhat broader. While data management, privacy and security are key components of trusted and effective data collaboratives, a broader goal is to re-use data for broader social goals (while preventing any potential harms that may result from sharing).

In particular the position paper — which captures lived experience of numerous data stewards — seeks to provide more clarity on how data stewards can accomplish these duties by:

  • Defining the responsibilities of a data steward; and
  • Identifying the roles which a data steward must fill to achieve these responsibilities.

Moving forward, The GovLab will engage with a broad set of stakeholders to explore the issues raised in the paper and fine-tune the roles and responsibilities of data stewards integrating more lived experience. In particular, we will seek to understand if and whether there are any differences between data stewards in the private and public sector; and what are common challenges or practices.

We will seek to help implement data stewards within organizations as to make data collaboration and data responsibility to be more systemic, sustainable, and responsible.

Finally, we will examine the formalization of a network of data stewards.


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The Governance Lab at NYU Tandon is an action-research center created to improve people’s lives and strengthen democracy by changing the way we govern using new technologies.

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