Berkeley's Institutional Data Management and Governance (IDMG) Initiative

Once upon a time, the Land of Cal was ruled by wise and benevolent leaders. They wanted to make the best decisions for their people, but they were always hungry. Every day, they went to the executive dining room and ordered the most flavorful appetizers, entrées and desserts on the menu. Every night, they dreamed of sumptuous feasts and then special ordered the elaborate dishes of their dreams. But even though they had assembled the most talented team of chefs in the land, their stomachs still grumbled.

The chefs were tearing out their hair. They were used to well-stocked pantries and kitchens. But in the Land of Cal, the vegetables and grains were stored on Oxford, the meats were housed on Hearst, and the spices could only be found on Bancroft. All day long, instead of cooking delicious meals, they ran to and from these outlying buildings, porting ingredients back and forth to their many cramped and ill-equipped kitchens. Sometimes, when they arrived at the vegetable and grain pantry, the only person with the key was nowhere to be found. Other times, at the meat pantry, the staff were too busy preparing their own meals to provide just the right ingredient to finish a particular dish. And all too often, some relatively common yet essential spice could not be located anywhere on campus at all.

Meanwhile, the leaders lingered on and on in the dining room, waiting for meals that arrived cold or without a crucial ingredient or never arrived at all. Finally, one day, the leaders had had enough. They charged a team of talented chefs to tell them how to fix the problem, and they created the Institutional Data Management and Governance (IDMG) Initiative…


Through the analogy of a well-stocked pantry, campus leaders charged to serve on the Institutional Data Council (IDC) began to envision what we could achieve through IDMG.  

The goal of IDMG would be to make institutional data easily accessible, reliable, consistent and secure to support informed planning, decision-making, and communication across campus. From the land of shadow systems, hours spent searching for data, and conversations focused on methodology - not content, Berkeley created a roadmap to transform data into information and information into insight. 

With the support of IDC leadership and Berkeley staff, we are creating a culture of evidence at Cal and a data environment to support it.  From communities of practice coming together to launch the IDMG Summer Series and Symposium to Operational Excellence’s investments in Cal Answers (our campus enterprise data warehouse tool) and CalPlanning (our campus budgeting tool), we are making major progress. 

Now, more than ever, campus leadership is calling for “one question, one answer.”  Our IDMG website is intended to share information on ways we are making that dream a reality. If you have other suggestions or ideas, please share them by sending a message to idmg@berkeley.edu.