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Data & Innovation Fund

A person in an office showing their screen to a team of people.

The Office of Data & Innovation’s (ODI) mission is to help the state government deliver better services to the people of California. To do this, we created the Data & Innovation Fund (DIF). 

The DIF funds collaboration between your department and ODI. It helps teams like yours identify, understand, and solve business problems. 

The DIF can help you if:

  • You need to find the “why” behind the challenges you face,
  • You need help improving your customers’ experience, or
  • You want to learn more about your users and what they need.

What the DIF does 

The DIF fosters collaboration between ODI and state agencies, departments, and offices. 

The DIF process grounds your business problem in user research, evidence, and data. It identifies projects that need business process changes, service innovation, and rapid prototypes. The discovery we do can support referral to the Technology Modernization Fund, a budget change proposal, and other avenues.

The DIF offers a way forward whether you have:

  • A solution in mind,
  • A contract already signed, or 
  • Aren’t sure where or how to get started. 

What the DIF funds:

  1. Exploring the problem through discovery to create a clear, data-informed problem definition,
  2. Identifying opportunities for business process improvements and organizational changes,
  3. Using market research to identify, vet, or confirm possible solutions, or
  4. Building a minimum viable product with advanced design, development, and implementation.

Good DIF candidates  


A good DIF partner is:

  • Hands-on,
  • Collaborative,
  • Transparent,
  • Willing to experiment, and
  • Curious about new methods and techniques.

They have a good understanding of the problem and its root causes, but they aren’t sure what the solution might be. They are excited to use data to better understand the problem and inform solutions. 


A good DIF project will have a significant impact. It may help Californians live healthier, safer, more secure lives. Or it may help state staff do their jobs more effectively, with less stress and better outcomes. And it has the support of executive leadership. 


A good DIF outcome has a meaningful impact on the people we serve. 

How the DIF process works 

DIF submissions will be accepted periodically. A DIF Advisory Committee will review submissions and make recommendations. This intake process is similar to CDT’s Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) process. 

In the review, the committee will focus on the problem statement. We will also gauge department readiness, and the project’s impact and feasibility. The intake questionnaire will give us the information needed to make these assessments.

Project selection is made by the DIF Selection Committee. Its members are Undersecretaries and Chief Deputy Directors.

Ask a question

We’re happy to answer questions about the DIF.