Statewide Data Dictionary
By B Victor Chakravarty, Enterprise Systems Architect, OIT
In response to the Governor's IT Executive Order (January 2005), as well as the OPEGA Audit for Maine State IT (January 2006), a dedicated Data Dictionary Committee was launched last summer. Its primary goal was to establish a detailed catalog of current data exchanges throughout the State, and a set of recommendations for more effective and efficient data exchanges in the future. The Committee was also given a few secondary goals; a consolidated statewide Data Dictionary, a suite of Memoranda of Understanding/Agreement templates for access privileges and confidentiality, a detailed catalog of current agency Data Stewards, and finally, a mechanism to keep all of the above refreshed into the future.
The Governor's IT Executive Order (January 2005) envisions one-stop services to Maine citizens from a minimum number of service points. The OPEGA Audit for Maine State IT (January 2006) recommends statewide Data Management and Knowledge Management. OPEGA defines Data Management as the development of data standards for codifying statewide common data elements, their formats, meanings and sources across multiple information systems. OPEGA defines Knowledge Management as better stewardship and management of the State's knowledge-based assets, and designation of Data Stewards, and facilitating statewide knowledge sharing. The only means of actualizing both the Governor's vision and the OPEGA recommendations is through a consolidated and integrated statewide data dictionary. Lacking effective standards and procedures, agencies and programs are currently left to storing and using common data in disparate formats, leading directly to the fragmentation of the State's information assets. An integrated, statewide Data Dictionary is the cornerstone of future technological advances, such as a statewide Enterprise Service Bus and a statewide Data Warehouse, providing a significant opportunity to extend access to, and reduce the costs of government services. By design, this Data Dictionary effort is in perfect alignment with the wider Data Warehousing exploration currently underway at various agencies and programs in order to meet their data scrubbing and business reporting requirements.
The Data Dictionary Committee consists of Paul Burgess (OIT-Labor), Phillipe Bonneau (Maine Health Data), Victor Chakravarty (OIT, Chair), Charlotte Ellis (OIT-Education), Rick Hayward (OIT-DHHS), Sharon Horne (OIT Core Technology), Elissa Marchetti (DOT), Ben McCollister (DHHS), Betty Norton (Secretary Of State), David Vincent (Maine Health Data), and Scott Woodruff (OIT-Conservation). The Committee met several times last year, and developed a charter and a questionnaire. The Committee also made two presentations to Senior Management last year, one to the CIO Council, and another one to the AITDs.
In order to move this effort to the next level, the Committee is now sending out the Questionnaire to the IT Directors in the various branches of the State Government. The Questionnaire is divided into two parts: the Core and the Optional. The Core questions address the agency Data Stewards, and details of the current inter-departmental data exchanges. The Optional questions address future plans, Memoranda of Understanding/Agreement, etc. By common consensus, six weeks was agreed upon as a reasonable timeframe for the first-cut responses. Accordingly, the Committee expects to hear back from the various IT Directors by the first week of March. Upon receipt of the agency responses, the Committee will perform some validation, consolidation, analysis, etc, and post the results on the Intranet. That should complete the primary goals that the Committee was launched to deliver. Downstream, the Committee will reconvene to negotiate the secondary goals.