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June 18, 2024

2024 CDO Council Award Winners

By CDO Council

Returning for a third year, the CDO Council Awards Program continues to successfully spotlight and honor the outstanding work and achievements of individuals and teams throughout the Federal Government who are excelling in the data field. Continue reading to learn about the 2024 awards and recipients.

Distinguished Achievement in Federal Data: James Barham, Department of Agriculture (CFO)

Launched in February 2023, the Rural Data Gateway is an online platform featuring over 20 data visualizations and charts that illustrate how investments through more than 70 USDA developmental programs have supported local and regional rural economies since 2012. It allows users to compare investments across different years, programs, and geographical areas, enhancing transparency and fostering trust between rural communities and USDA. The Gateway significantly expands public access to rural development data, informs discussions, improves program administration, and enhances outreach to rural and tribal communities.

Distinguished Federal Data Innovator: Sara Cermenaro, Social Security Administration (CFO)

The CDO team, led by Ms. Sara Cermenaro, is fostering a Data Stewardship culture across the Social Security Administration (SSA) by implementing a Data Governance framework. Key initiatives include developing a FY 2024-2027 enterprise data strategy focusing on people, process, and technology, launching a maturity assessment to set a baseline and prioritize resources, and creating a data governance platform to communicate practices and unite SSA. SSA’s commitment to transparent, collaborative, sustainable, and non-invasive principles aims to advance data management maturity and enhance service delivery and operational efficiency.

Distinguished Federal Data Innovator: The Data Policy and Access Team, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Non-CFO)

The Data Policy and Access Team within the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA) has significantly enhanced the accessibility and confidentiality of EEOC data by reinstating data-sharing with academic researchers  through an agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau, ensuring data protection. They launched interactive dashboards featuring anonymized data collections from 20117 and 2018, including a comparison tab that allows users to analyze pay disparities by race, sex, industry, and job type. These advancements demonstrate the team’s commitment to data transparency and evidence-building efforts.

Excellence in Data Governance: Dr. Neeraj Koul, Department of Transportation (CFO)

As the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Chief Data Officer, Dr. Neeraj Koul has significantly elevated data governance within the FRA by promoting its importance throughout the data lifecycle, laying a foundation for future improvements in railroad safety. He established an architecture planning review board to ensure all new systems consider data management, preventing data silos and improving integration and analytics. Additionally, Dr. Koul initiated a Community of Practice for data education and developed an innovative policy to meet Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Section 22417) requirements using existing resources, and avoiding unplanned IT projects.

Data Champion of the Year: Andre Newsom, Department of Energy (CFO)

Andre leads data management practices at Kansas City National Security Campus’s (KCNSC) driving data ecosystem innovation and standardization initiatives. In 2023, he helped present at the national labs summit on API management, fostering collaboration across the Department of Energy, and partnered with internal stakeholders to develop API assets that support next-generation data solutions.

Team of the Year: The CDO Team, Railroad Retirement Board (Non-CFO)

The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board is pioneering digital transformation under its first Chief Data Officer, Dr. Kathleen McGuire, along with Annette Catalano, William Davis, James George, Vadim Libes, Keith McElroy, focusing on improving customer and digital experiences to reduce costs and manual labor. Key accomplishments include consolidating on-premise servers, addressing data and latency issues in legacy systems, converting outdated reports to relational databases, and training employees in data analytics and integration, all aimed at propelling the agency into a data-driven organization.

Team of the Year: The NEAS Team, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (CFO)

The NASA Enterprise Automation Service (NEAS) has enhanced data upskilling and accessibility by integrating the Microsoft Power Platform and dataverse across NASA, centralizing low-code/no-code tools for efficient task automation. The transition to Power BI has improved data visualization and decision-making capabilities with a significant boost in tool adoption following the “Microsoft Power Palooza” training event, organized by NEAS, increasing monthly active users by over 230% from 11,000 to 26,000 today.

Data Skills Working Group Superior Contributors:

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