Federal Data Science Training Program will make use of coronavirus datasets, be entirely online

The free six-month training program will span all 24 CFO Act agencies and culminate in capstone projects tailored to each.
(Getty Images)

Beginning in mid-September, the Office of Management and Budget will teach up to 60 government employees data science skills like coding, graph analytics, and data visualization and ethics, while tapping into coronavirus datasets.

All 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies will receive two to three slots in the Federal Data Science Training Program in a governmentwide effort to develop talent capable of identifying patterns in data, said Denis Ortega, a fellow with the White House Leadership Development Program who is working with the Office of the Federal CIO.

The free six-month training program will be entirely online due to coronavirus pandemic concerns and shows the federal Chief Information Officers Council’s commitment to data science in the remote work environment.

“This is definitely an emerging field, and I think from a federal standpoint … we’re going out and looking for the best talent that’s out there,” Ortega said, while officially announcing the program at ATARC‘s Data Analytics Working Group launch Tuesday. “And at times when we don’t necessarily have the ability to go out and recruit, we’re looking at how we can develop that skill in house.”


OMB‘s program is based on a data science reskilling pilot the Census Bureau launched internally in January and is currently in the marketing and selection phase.

It’s also preceded by the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy, which sought to place federal workers in new cybersecurity jobs after completion. But in this case, the new data science program is aimed at “upskilling” participants to make them more fluent in data science in their existing jobs.

Participants will receive eight hours of course training a week, including R and Python coding modules, beginning with orientation in mid-September. After a break for the holidays, the program will resume in February with two-month capstone projects offering more “hands-on” learning, Ortega said.

Capstone projects will be tied to the federal coronavirus response and resulting datasets that have come out of agencies, namely the Department of Health and Human Services, though they’ll be tailored to trainees’ respective agencies.

“Because we know that large datasets were created and established over the last seven and eight months, we’re going to leverage that data,” Ortega said. “So we are requiring [subject matter experts] and mentors at each of the agencies to provide some of that assistance and help our trainees go through and actually collect some of those important datasets to be able to leverage in their respective capstone projects.”


Additional information on the Federal Data Science Training Program will be posted to

The program itself will finish in April,

“Hopefully that will be right in conjunction with everything great that is coming out of HHS,” Ortega said.

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