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Commentary: CalData Merging With Office of Digital Innovation

“We will call the merged office the Office of Data and Innovation,” writes Joy Bonaguro, California’s chief data officer. “This proposed merger will allow each program to leverage the expertise of each group. The team will focus on both the public experience of government and internal management and operations (whether digital or not).”

California’s chief data officer, Joy Bonaguro, posted the following commentary Monday on It has been edited lightly for style. Bonaguro will be the subject of a Techwire Member Briefing on June 3.

Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom released what’s called the May Revise budget for California. The May Revise is the final budget proposal that the Legislature considers for adoption.

As part of the budget, the governor has proposed to merge the Office of Digital Innovation (ODI) with CalData. We will call the merged office the Office of Data and Innovation. This proposed merger will allow each program to leverage the expertise of each group. The team will focus on both the public experience of government and internal management and operations (whether digital or not).

The proposed merger will work to improve Californians’ experience of their government through championing human-centered design, empowering use of data and evidence, and demonstrating modern and agile use of technology and prototyping.

The newly rechristened ODI will focus on the following key activities:
  • Partner with departments to adopt modern data and innovation practices, including through training and capacity building, hands-on projects, and expert consulting.
  • Support the development and implementation of sustainable innovation and culture change in state government, including through new policies and standards, playbooks and case studies, and modern platforms and tools.
  • Ensure that the state has the infrastructure, processes, and people to manage, access and use data efficiently, effectively, securely and responsibly by streamlining data access across departments, improving data management and governance, and spurring improved use of data and evidence.

The merger will create centers of excellence in user research, service innovation, and data and analytics. Having these centers under one roof will supercharge our efforts to modernize practices across the state. It allows for deep expertise, while reducing collaboration barriers and saving money.

At the same time, our intake process for client projects will be multidisciplinary. This will ensure that the right mix of skills is being brought to the problem at hand.

The new ODI will also create a curriculum via the proposed Cal Academy. The goal will be to train and update our workforce’s skills in modern practices in innovation and data.

What’s happening to CalData? The role of the chief data officer, the state data strategy, and CalData team will continue and expand(!) as part of this proposed merger. We will be creating three teams reporting to the CDO. This will allow CalData to offer more department-facing services.

The data programs and policy team will build statewide data capacity. Their goal is to harmonize and modernize data and analytics approaches across the state. This team also helps remove common barriers to adopting modern data practices. Their work includes:

The advanced analytics and evaluation team will provide analytics as a service. Their goal is to speed up the ethical adoption of advanced analytics and evaluation. This will help agencies find ways to work smarter, save costs, and improve services and operations. We’re modeling this on DataScienceSF, a data science service we created in the city and county of San Francisco. Visit a showcase of early projects.

The data services and data engineering team will help create our modern data infrastructure stack and services. Their goal is to support open data, advanced analytics, and data platforms across the state and for the ODI team. This team will also be the go-to consultants on building a modern data stack.

Join us and/or spread the word!

Pending legislative approval, we will be hiring in each of these teams. We will be looking for data engineers, analytics engineers, data scientists, data analysts, policy wonks, analytics and program managers, data governance geeks and more.

Our goal is to attract and build a team that reflects the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of Californians. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion help us deliver better government services to the people of California. One of the best ways to hire a diverse team is to develop a diverse set of applicants. So please help us spread the word far and wide.

If you’re interested in being notified of upcoming openings or learning more, please complete this very brief form, or if you know someone who would be interested, please share this blog post! If you love data, love people, and love helping people love data, we CAN’T WAIT to hear from you :-)

Plus — don’t miss out: ODI continues to hire. Check ’em out at:
Joy Bonaguro has spent her career working at the nexus of data, technology, design and policy. In January 2020, Bonaguro was appointed Chief Data Officer of the state of California with an overarching goal to improve government use of data. Prior to her state role, she was responsible for scaling internal systems, data, and information security at Corelight, a high-growth cybersecurity startup. Prior to Corelight, she served as the first Chief Data Officer for the City and County of San Francisco, where she pioneered multiple initiatives to streamline data access, improve data management and governance, and boost capacity to use data through training and data science.