The federal government is an information-intensive organization and it is imperative that data within and across the federal government be well managed. A central repository of data about data—also referred to as meta data—can be an effective data-management tool. However, a repository, as proposed here, is not to be confused with a data dictionary that merely gives definitions of data. A repository can be used to manage information about how its data is transformed (i.e., system processes), the situations under which such transformations take place (i.e., events that trigger data changes), and constraints of various types (e.g., business rules like HIPAA regulations or system constraints if you are trying to integrate a new process into an existing one). Hence, the repository I propose is a Meta Information Repository to reflect the notion that the ederal government not only keep meta data but also meta processes, meta controls, meta constraints, and the relationships among them.
The clear understanding of this meta information is vital to making government efficient and nimble enough to respond quickly to changes in the regulatory and business environment of federal agencies and departments. The ability to manage meta information and the resulting self-knowledge can also engender a confidence in data and processes that will be apparent to both users of data and suppliers and can provide knowedge and insights that have not been possible to date.