The NYU Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF)
New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (NYU Wagner, Wagner), is a public policy school that offers a comprehensive curriculum in public and nonprofit policy and management, health policy and management, international development, and urban planning.
The initial step in implementing a data governance framework, involves defining the owners or custodians of the data assets within the agency. This role is called data stewardship. Most agencies that collect data and want to provide these for research purposes, do not have the capacity to develop a data management/approval workflow. The typical way of data access is very unstructured, ad hoc, and only successful when relationships are already established. Most workflows leave a paper trail behind, and information along the process is not being collected. As such, the data provider has no clue who is using the data, for what purposes, and who the researchers are. Data Providers, in addition, are not able to monitor what is being done with their data. The Data Stewardship Module is a tool that will support the agency with the data management/approval process.
The challenge, to design the module in a flexible way, so it can be used by multiple agencies. It needed to be scalable, to allow use by potentially thousands of users, and hundreds of projects, where multiple users can be on multiple projects using datasets from several agencies. Usage reports are also available on an on-demand basis to agencies. Progress of approval needs to be available on an on-demand basis to users.
The System is used by two main users. One is to help federal and state agencies to facilitate the approval process to data access. The others are researchers, to replace paperwork approval trails.
Within the main functionality of the system, we ensured that researchers can request access for datasets from different sources (e.g. state agencies, universities, banks etc), data stewards are then able to review this request and approve or reject it. All agreements need to be signed, both by the institution (signed by project requester), and the individual (signed by all members of the project).
Additional functionalities created within the core system are