Data Governance Policy Guide

Executive Summary

As courts rely more heavily on data for case management, strategic planning, budgeting, and improving court performance, we recognize that data are more than by-products of case processing.  

The public and justice partners increasingly depend on ready access to data, and accurate and timely data are essential for public trust and confidence in the judiciary. Data are now strategic assets of the courts and courts need strong data governance policies and practices.

Data governance is the framework by which courts reach and communicate organizational decisions around data, ensure that business activities and data management are synchronized, and develop and document long- and short-term strategies around the collection, use, and disposal of data. Data governance encompasses the people, court processes, and procedures that ensure that data are fit for managing cases, planning, and budgeting. Governance is about creating a culture around data creation and use, including how data rules are created and enforced and how disputes are resolved. Without strong data governance, courts risk wasting time and energy searching for missing information, collecting unnecessary information, correcting bad information, entering data redundantly, and making decisions repetitively and sometimes inconsistently.

This resource guide is intended to help courts create, evaluate, revise, and maintain good data governance policies and practices within the context of their own laws, rules, and regulations. Recommendations are included for staffing a data governance committee and assigning data governance roles within the organization. Concerns around the life cycle of data are addressed, from collection to use to deletion or archiving. Best practices around data quality are provided, along with a glossary and resources that have been useful for other courts.

Writing, revising, and maintaining data governance policies and procedures is an ongoing process that requires significant time and attention. Policies and procedures need to be robust enough to address the current needs and climate of the court but elastic enough to adapt to changes that will inevitably occur. It is our hope that this resource guide serves to help courts develop and improve effective data governance policies by providing both a solid foundation for courts who are at the beginning stages of development while also providing insights and resources to assist in the continuing development and improvement of policies for courts who are further along in the process of establishing data governance. The development of data governance policies and procedures is an ongoing, iterative process, and as such, this document too will evolve and adapt. We invite court leaders, data specialists, data users, and others who rely upon court data to share their experiences with data and impart best practices to the court.

Download the Data Governance Policy Guide here.

Data Governance Resource List