3.2.1. What is Data Description and Why is it Important    (3YP1)

The purpose of the Data Description standardization area is to provide a means for a COI to agree to the structure (syntax) and meaning (semantics) of the data that it uses. Within the context of the DRM, these agreements are documented as Data Description artifacts that are captured in accordance with the DRM abstract model. Hence, Data Description artifacts are an output of the process of providing data syntax and semantics and a meaningful identification for a data resource so as to make it visible and usable by a COI.    (3YP2)

The FEA Program Management Office (FEA PMO) recognizes that data has a significant role in the FEA. Historically, when executives, managers, operations personnel, etc. hear the terms “data” and “data management”, they have equated it to a low level, “bits and bytes” technical task that is taken care of by data people on application development projects. In reality, the data in a COI are the basis for sound business decision making. If Data Description is done right it has a positive impact on mission effectiveness. If it is done wrong it impedes that effectiveness, sometimes with disastrous results when data needed for decision making cannot be found.    (3YP3)

Comprehensive management of data, throughout its life cycle, is critical to providing high quality information to all aspects of government operations. The inclusion of the DRM in the FEA not only elevates the significance of sound data management practices, it is also a catalyst for federal government agencies to improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of their data. Data Description is the foundation of those practices. It enables the following critical mission support capabilities:    (3X0J)

The Data Sharing services described in Chapter 5 describe the underlying capabilities that enable a COI to successfully perform these functions --- when the data within a COI has been adequately described.    (3X0O)

[5] From Adaptive Information, by Jeffrey T. Pollock and Ralph Hodgson, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., ISBN 0-471-48854-2, 2004, p.6.    (3YP5)