Data Governance

Data governance is the collection of practices and processes that helps to build trust and transparency with the data assets of Ohio State.

The goal of data governance is to build strong trust in data through:

  • Transparent, inclusive processes
  • Shared data responsibilities
  • Proactive data validation
  • Consistent definitions, naming and support

Data governance is a core component of the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation's (OTDI) efforts to support the teaching, research, service, and patient care missions of the university. This work represents an opportunity to foster a collaborative and inclusive culture around our data. As a result, the university's data governance model is maturing and much of the information below is in a draft or proposal state. Check out the Media page for a quick five minute Data Governance video overview.

Guiding Principles

University data is a valuable strategic asset. It must be managed, secured, and governed so that it can be leveraged to inform decision-making and process improvements, and to support the university’s mission, vision, and values. Data Governance works to uphold the values of Integrity and Respect by building trust in university data management through honesty, transparency, and authentic engagement with data stewards and the university community.

Data Governance should follow disctinct Guiding Principles

Data should be:

UNIVERSITY-OWNED: The Ohio State University is the owner of all university data assets. The organizational framework for delegating data management responsibilities throughout the enterprise should reflect distributed stewardship.

ACCESSIBLE: Data should be made accessible and data governance should be as least restrictive as possible while upholding privacy and security concerns and regulatory requirements. Data democratization means that there are no gatekeepers creating undue bottlenecks at the gateways to aggregate or de-identified data, but that sensitive data is protected by appropriate limited access.

MANAGED: University data is a valuable institutional asset and must be managed to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations and university policies, standards, and guidelines. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy, security, protection, and productive use of institutional data.

CONSISTENT: Data quality, accessibility, privacy, and security must be defined, communicated, and managed consistently across the data life cycle.

EFFICIENT: Data governance processes should be standardized and as automated as possible to keep current with changes in data and data processes.

FLEXIBLE: Processes and procedures should be regularly evaluated as data and university needs change over time.

Check back regularly for updates and finalized structures and processes. If you have feedback regarding draft or proposed information, please contact Laura Gast, Data Governance Program Director.

Data Governance Checklist

The Data Governance Checklist is available for download and use as a resource to ensure all projects incorporate sound governance principles from the outset. While most projects entail implementing new systems or tools, this guide also addresses data governance needs for retiring or decommissioning existing systems.

Please be sure to attribute any use of the content to Data Governance at Ohio State.

Data Governance Stewardship Structure and Roles

A key concept in the development of data governance at the university is that it should be only as formal as needed, according to the priority and use of the data in question. As a result, the data stewardship structure needs to be fully and clearly defined for the most impactful data elements even though in practice many data processes and decisions can be handled by individual areas and stewards.

Current Data Stewards

As outlined by Ohio State’s Institutional Data Policy, “data stewards” are designated university officials whose functional areas of responsibility include the creation or origination of institutional data. They have overall responsibility for managing and maintaining such data. Data stewards are the main point of contact for their respective data and how it should be used. A listing of current data stewards, along with their data area and contact information, is available at the Data Domains page.

Data Steward Playlist

New and current data stewards can check out the Data Stewardship BuckeyeLearn playlist to gain a deeper understanding of data stewardship and the responsibilities of that role. The playlist curates online class modules for Data Steward Foundations, Global Data Stewardship, and Learning Data Governance.

Structure and Roles

Both campus and the medical center are represented at all levels of data governance, including joint stewardship of data domains, when appropriate.

Data Governance Council

Responsible for strategic guidance of the data governance program, prioritization for data governance projects and initiatives, and final arbiter for decisions that cannot be resolved at a lower level. The current Data Governance Council membership list and charter are available for reference (login required).

Functional Executive

Senior executive responsible for data and domains within their organization who responds to high-level data issues such as a data breach.

Primary Domain Steward

Takes a strategic, cross-functional view of domain data for the benefit of the enterprise, promotes data governance within the unit's business processes, resolves intra-domain conflicts and escalates to the Data Governance Council when necessary, responsible for approving (or delegating the approval of) data access requests.

Secondary Domain Steward

Responsible for issue resolution within the secondary domain and actively champions the implementation and enforcement of data governance within their functional areas of responsibility, resolves intra-domain conflicts where possible and escalates to the Primary Domain Steward.

Operational Data Steward

Responsible for data quality audits and fixes as well as data quality triage and resolution, serves as the primary subject matter expert on unit data, facilitates development of metadata for data assets.

Data Governance Program Office (DGPO)

Responsible for defining, facilitating, supporting and sustaining data governance program activities with the goal of ensuring data is managed as an enterprise asset, tracks and reports success metrics to the Data Governance Council and stewardship stakeholders.



What is Data Governance?

Data Governance is a framework of processes and tools that manage institutional data. More simply, it is about who has decision rights about data such as defining terms, approving access, and managing data quality to improve and protect Ohio State’s data assets.

What is a data domain?

Data domains are logical groupings of related data to provide a common structure in order to clearly define boundaries, interdependencies and stewardship areas of responsibility. Data domains consist of Primary Domains subdivided into Secondary Domains. The domain structure will continue to grow and expand to cover all data at Ohio State including the Wexner Medical Center. By design, Ohio State’s domain structure is not specifically tied to our organizational structure or to particular systems to minimize the impact of organizational or system changes.

What is a data steward? 

A data steward is someone who has been assigned a formal role as an Operational Data Steward, Secondary Domain Steward or Primary Domain Steward. As part of their role, Data Stewards are designated university officials whose functional areas of responsibility include the creation or origination of institutional data. They have overall responsibility for managing and maintaining such data. Data stewards are the main point of contact for their respective data and how it should be used.

Whose role is it to take care of data at Ohio State?

It is everyone’s role to take care of data, even if you have not formally been assigned a data stewardship role. We all have a part to play in the caretaking and safeguarding of data which we create or use in our jobs and roles.