Access, Governance, P-20W Data

How Colorado is Using Cross-Agency Data Governance to Strengthen Workforce Readiness

How Colorado is Using Cross-Agency Data Governance to Strengthen Workforce Readiness

Clear leadership is essential to ensuring effective data access and use. That’s why state leaders and decisionmakers must establish cross-agency data governance. While the term might seem dry, mandated, leadership-level, cross-agency data governance is the only way to ensure transparency and accountability for decisions about statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDSs), including data collection, security, and access. Best practices for data governance include establishing a leadership-level body with representation from all agencies that contribute data so that agency leaders can be transparent about decisionmaking. Legislation is a powerful tool to make this collaboration happen and to ensure that data is collected, protected, accessed, and used effectively. This year, Colorado passed key governance legislation that marks a significant step toward enhancing workforce readiness through improved data governance.

With HB 24-1364, Colorado now joins seven other states that have codified best-practice cross-agency data governance including a leadership-level governing board. The law:

  • Mandates the establishment of the Colorado Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) within the Office of Informational Technology; 
  • Creates a cross-agency data governance structure—with a governing board that includes leaders from various state agencies and members of the public, ensuring transparency and diverse representation;
  • Provides $5 million in state funding and lays out requirements for the system, including a requirement that the data system has the ability to supply information to education and workforce practitioners alongside policymakers and researchers; and 
  • Requires the Colorado SLDS Governing Board to submit an annual report on postsecondary and workforce outcomes to the governor and general assembly, emphasizing the importance of using data to support education to career pathways and workforce outcomes. 

Colorado’s HB 24-1364 aligns with DQC’s vision for data access and our most critical recommendation to state leaders: codifying cross-agency data governance into state law. Colorado’s law not only requires the creation of a robust SLDS and mandates cross-agency data governance, but it also secures funding to maintain these systems, which is essential for their long-term success. Furthermore, by requiring the governing board to produce reports on postsecondary and workforce outcomes, the law supports workforce development strategies that are driven by robust and comprehensive data, allowing for improved employment outcomes and equitable access to high-quality career pathways across the state. 

Other states should follow Colorado’s example. States should consider implementing cross-agency data governance structures where leaders from across the state have authority to make decisions and public participation is encouraged. These steps support transparency and inclusivity. By adopting these best practices, states can improve data access and use, ensuring that state goals drive decisions about data—putting people first, not systems.