Data Governance

data governance

Data governance focuses on improving data quality, protecting access to data, establishing business definitions, maintaining metadata and documenting data policies. Data governance relies on the right people involved at the right time using the right data to make the right decisions. 

Our role is to ensure that the highest quality data possible is delivered throughout the university and provides valuable information to serve individual and organizational needs.

The university's institutional information is a valuable asset and must be maintained and protected as such. It is vital to have accurate, trusted data in order to make sound decisions at all levels of an organization. Data governance helps to provide data transparency and results in confidence among university faculty, staff and management to trust and rely on data for information and decision support.

Governing Institutional Data

The following principles are set forth as minimum standards to govern the appropriate use and management of institutional data:

  • Institutional data is the property of the George Washington University and shall be managed as a key asset
  • Unnecessary duplication of institutional data is discouraged
  • Quality standards for institutional data shall be defined and monitored
  • Institutional data shall be protected
  • Institutional data shall be accessible according to defined needs and roles
  • Institutional metadata shall be recorded, managed and utilized
  • Institutional representatives will be held accountable to their roles and responsibilities
  • Necessary maintenance of institutional data shall be defined
  • Resolution of issues related to institutional data shall follow consistent processes
  • Data stewards are responsible for the subset of data in their charge

Data Quality

Data quality is a perception or an assessment of information's fitness to serve its purpose in a given context. Data quality dimensions include:

  • accuracy
  • completeness
  • consistency
  • currency
  • duplication
  • reasonableness
  • timeliness

Data quality is crucial to operational and transactional processes and the reliability of business analytics (BA) and business intelligence (BI) reporting. Data quality is affected by the way data is entered, stored and managed.

Roles Required to Govern Data

No one person, department, division, school or group "owns" data, even though specific units bear some responsibility for certain data. Several roles and responsibilities govern the management of, access to and accountability for institutional data.

  • Data governance committee: This committee is comprised of functional data stewards from across all functions and departments of the university.
  • Data stewards: Data stewards are university business officials (outside the Division of IT) who have direct operational-level responsibility for the management of one or more types of institutional data and have the authority to make decisions.
  • Data trustees: Data trustees are defined as institutional officers (e.g., vice presidents, vice provosts, deans and chancellors) who have authority over policies and procedures regarding business definitions of data and the access and usage of that data within their delegations of authority. Each data trustee appoints data stewards for specific subject area domains.
  • Data custodians: Data custodians are system administrators responsible for the operation and management of systems and servers that collect, manage and provide access to institutional data.
  • Data users: Data users are university units or individual university community members who have been granted access to institutional data in order to perform assigned duties or in fulfillment of assigned roles or functions within the university; this access is granted solely for the conduct of university business.
  • Data Governance Office (DGO): The DGO facilitates and supports data governance and data stewardship activities, including:
    • keeping track of data stakeholders and stewards
    • providing liaisons to other disciplines and programs, such as data quality, compliance, privacy, security, architecture and IT governance
    • collecting and aligning policies, standards and guidelines from these stakeholder groups
    • arranging for the providing of information and analysis to IT projects as requested
    • facilitating and coordinating data analysis and issue analysis projects
    • facilitating and coordinating meetings of data stewards
    • collecting metrics and success measures and reporting on them to data stakeholders
    • providing ongoing stakeholder care in the form of communication, access to information, record keeping and education/support
    • articulating the value of data governance and stewardship activities
    • providing centralized communications for governance-led and data-related matters
    • maintaining governance records

Accountability and Responsibility

A community is a grouping of users. Communities serve as taxonomies of high-level institutional data subject areas and are key to assigning accountability and responsibility. The following data governance communities have been established:

  • Academics
  • Advancement
  • Finance
  • Research
  • Human Resources
  • Services and Resources
  • Master Data


Data Governance Updates

Data governance is an ongoing, continuous data quality improvement effort. A high-level summary of data governance activities to date is provided below:

  • Developed workflow for BI solutions and data certifications
  •  Drafted institutional Data Governance Policy
    • How GW manages data as a strategic asset of the university
  • Implementing Data Governance Center  providing workflow to GW data stewards and custodians for:
    • Development of business glossary
    • Development of data dictionary for consistent and transparent use of GW data
    • Access to BI product catalog (e.g., catalog of reports and dashboards)

Contact Us

If you have questions about data governance, contact the Data Governance Office at [email protected].