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Legislative Report: July 1, 2020-July 1, 2022


The Office of Data and Innovation (ODI) improves Californians’ experience of state government by championing human-centered design, empowering use of data and evidence, demonstrating modern and agile use of technology and prototyping, and continuous cycles of improvement to create services that are easy-to-use, equitable, and accessible regardless of ability or background.

ODI ended 2022 with the completion of cohort one of the Data and Innovation Services Revolving Fund (DIF) projects and laying the groundwork for DIF cohorts two and three to launch in the spring of 2023. July 2022 brought the merger of CalData into ODI to combine the forces of data and innovation to better serve California. CalData is the central data team for the State of California, led by the Statewide Chief Data Officer. CalData staff work on policies and programs that build capacity across the state for data informed decision making. From 2020 through 2022, ODI’s staff and resources engaged extensively in the state’s efforts to serve Californians during the COVID-19 emergency including collaboration with multiple state agencies and departments. ODI’s efforts included providing regular, real-time updating and expansion of, the state’s official website for COVID-19 information, policy guidance and data.

At the same time, ODI led and collaborated on a number of different projects, including user experience research, the development of new websites, credit card acceptance and fee reduction, a statewide web design system, procurement access, new uses for first-party data, interagency data sharing, recruitment and retention improvements, social safety net service participation gap reduction and improvement, public comment process improvements, service uptake increases, innovation training for other state departments, and a host of other initiatives.

Activities of the Office

Creating sustainable innovation

From July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2022, ODI dedicated significant time and resources supporting the state response to COVID-19. While continuously improving the website, ODI’s researchers, designers, and engineers led initiatives that informed the adoption of modern data and innovation practices in departments across the state. Because of this work, a sustainable culture of innovation is growing in state government.

ODI utilized innovative human-centered design during the pandemic to design Californians and businesses across the state relied on it for up-to-date guidance and help. That meant it had to be easy to use and navigate, fast and reliable on both desktops and cell phones, and able to be updated rapidly with high quality, accessible content.

ODI led a collaborative effort with the Department of Technology (CDT) to launch the first version of the California Design System in February 2022. A design system is a set of tools and resources established to facilitate the creation of modern, accessible, and fast websites. Using a design system allows websites to be built rapidly while focusing on users. Since launch, California Design System was used to build:


ODI transitioned ongoing maintenance of the California Design System to CDT in June 2022. ODI continues to support CDT’s rollout of the California Design System to replace the State Web Template. In October 2022, ODI and CDT won Best IT Collaboration at the Digital Government Summit in Sacramento for the California Design System.

Through, ODI developed a series of tools and methods to engage directly with Californians. One project captured vaccine sentiment and pinpointed areas with low vaccine access and high vaccine willingness. Using these tools, ODI provided critical data to decision makers to improve equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. As ODI utilizes these tools across state websites and programs, ODI knows what and how people are thinking to better meet Californians’ needs. ODI is incorporating these approaches into our training and used them in subsequent projects such as the benefits identifier (see Appendix C).

Projects such as these are now evolving into systems that can be reused statewide on different projects and domains. ODI is creating an engine of sustainable innovation (see Appendix A).

Building the ODI organization

As of December 2022, ODI has grown to a staff of thirty-seven full-time state employees and is preparing to become an independent department on July 1, 2023.

Since July 1, 2020, ODI has approached the building of its team innovatively through piloting new recruitment and onboarding methods, following the state hiring practices of a fair and equitable merit-based system. ODI effectively deployed innovative tools, hardware, and services and documented and shared these innovations with other state agencies and departments (see Appendix B).

On July 1, 2022, the Office of Digital Innovation welcomed the CalData team and merged the two offices to become the Office of Data and Innovation (ODI). ODI continues to recruit and is working towards filling 24 remaining vacancies by June 30, 2023.

Data and Innovation Services Revolving Fund activities

The Data and Innovation Services Revolving Fund (DIF) fosters collaboration between ODI and state agencies, departments, and offices. DIF supports ODI partnerships with state agencies and departments to innovate solutions and improve services to Californians.

The development of the DIF application and selection process took approximately six months. ODI partnered with a consultant who provided specialized software that resulted in a successful DIF solicitation for cohort one.

ODI launched the first DIF project solicitation in June 2022. The first cohort of DIF included six projects:

  1. Department of Human Resources (CalHR): ODI performed a 3-month intensive research and discovery sprint with CalHR beginning late in FY 2021-22 to improve employee recruitment and retention statewide. In 2022, ODI conducted market research for a modern applicant tracking and recruitment system. The business process improvements identified during this project will result in more efficient recruitment and hiring processes and an improved candidate experience.
  2. California Department of Social Services: ODI engaged in a 6-week discovery sprint to find opportunities to close the participation gap in California’s social safety net services. ODI is now piloting phase one of a benefits identifier and exploring partnership opportunities to scale this work after the pilot ends in mid-2023.
  3. Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC): ODI is piloting methods of digital advertising and engagement campaigns to explore how to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of gathering public comments. After the pilot ends in early 2023, ODI intends to procure sustainable solutions and organizational change management consulting to build identified innovations and efficiencies.
  4. California Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB): ODI conducted research and discovery to understand CalVCB’s users and how they engage with CalVCB. This project will result in more effective and efficient engagement with CalVCB’s target audience and ensure that victims get the compensation they are entitled to. The discovery phase wrapped in late 2022. Procurement and other efforts to sustain ODI’s findings will begin in Spring 2023.
  5. California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs): ODI conducted research to identify operational inefficiencies in CalWORKs and opportunities to better serve program participants. Further research will begin in Spring 2023 to find solutions to make outreach and user feedback opportunities more effective and efficient. This includes streamlining communications between the state and county partners.
  6. Office of Emergency Services (CalOES): In 2022, ODI initiated preliminary planning and resource allocation for a CalOES project introducing human-centered approaches to emergency services. Research will begin in Spring 2023.

See Appendix C for further details about DIF work.

ODI plans to solicit applications for the second and third cohorts of DIF in Spring 2023. The second DIF cohort will focus on delivering better services to the people of California with a focus on three new data services. The third DIF cohort will focus on service innovation and business process changes.

CalData merger with ODI

On July 1, 2022, CalData merged with the Office of Digital Innovation to form the Office of Data and Innovation (ODI). CalData’s key set of skills enhances ODI’s ability to achieve our mission of improving Californians’ experience of government. ODI continues to deliver on the statewide data strategy to empower the effective and ethical use of data across the state.

The strategy is structured around the analogy that to successfully navigate the “data landscape” the state needs to:

  • Build data roads by improving data infrastructure and streamlining data access so we can have a smoother data ride
  • Craft rules of the road by establishing standards and practices so we don’t drive towards dead ends or into each other
  • Boost travelers by building skills, capacity and tools for data teams and staff to effectively do their data work

ODI continues to make major organizational strides and progress on these three goals.

As part of building the data roads, the CalData team established shared data systems in the state, including the Cradle-to-Career Data System. The team is also working in partnership with CDT to develop shared and trusted datasets. Instead of departments creating datasets on their own, we can reduce duplication and costs by having a single shared dataset for common data needs like addresses, department names, and more. As part of ODI, the CalData team continues working to improve the usability and accessibility of open data.

To craft the rules of the road, ODI is also partnering with other state departments, including CalHR and the State Personnel Board, to modernize state jobs classifications. This will ensure the state can promote and attract the best data professionals. ODI continues to manage the Interagency Data Exchange Agreement, which provides for a single, streamlined method to negotiate data sharing across state entities. We are exploring common approaches to evaluation and impact measurement and working on data standards for the governor’s Executive Order N-16-22.

To boost our data travelers, the CalData team continues to develop a roadmap for data trainings as part of ODI’s CalAcademy. We connect monthly with data teams across the state and share data updates through our newsletter and community of practice to foster collaboration and innovation.

To further support the strategy, we are launching data services via DIF. These data services are focused on (1) accelerating data capacity across the state by eliminating common barriers to streamlined data and (2) the use of data science and modeling to improve services and operations. See Appendix D for further details about ODI’s data work.

Building durable capacity across the state

Another goal of ODI is to foster organizational change and build skills that live beyond our projects. ODI has had great success improving state government through our work and department partnerships. ODI endeavors to build the innovation capacity of our department partners so they continue to innovate on their own.

ODI completed several training pilots:

  • Consulting on building digital teams. In 2021-2022, ODI worked with the Department of Cannabis Control and the Department of Public Health to help them build their own in- house digital teams that can build on the foundations started by ODI.
  • Teaching content design. Content design helps us write in plain language (not bureaucratic speak) so Californians can more easily use services. In October 2021, ODI launched content design principles at CDT’s Digital Web Services Network with over 200 state employees in attendance. ODI trained another 73 employees at DTSC in November 2021 and representatives from 13 departments at the June 2022 State Information Officers Council meeting.
  • Website analytics training. Web analytics help departments understand how users navigate their websites and identify where they get stuck. ODI piloted this training with CalVCB and the Department of Cannabis Control, which helped each department take over management of the website analytics dashboards ODI created for them.
  • PowerBI training. This tool can be used to automate manual reporting and free up staff time for deeper analytical work. ODI piloted a new remote training model that helped the CalHR Financial Management Division rapidly automate several manual reports.

Based on the lessons learned from these pilots, ODI plans to build the CalAcademy team in

Spring 2023 and develop curriculum to accompany DIF projects. To build better capacity statewide, ODI is working to improve the procurement of digital services through human centered procurement consulting, expanding statewide procurement vehicles, credit card acceptance and fee reduction, and small business procurement user research. See Appendix E for further details about how ODI is improving procurement.

DIF accounting

The Data and Innovation Services Revolving Fund (DIF) was established on July 1, 2020, and initially funded with $10 million.

ODI transferred $172,000 of remaining year-end operating expenses to DIF in FY 2020-21 to support future ODI operations. The FY 2020-21 year end balance for DIF was $10,172,000.

The following encumbrances were made against the fund in FY 2020-21:

  • ODI entered into a contract with the California Council on Science and Technology in the amount of $1,040,000 for provision of scientific and technical expertise including convening experts, creation of advisory teams, and provision of science fellows/research assistants.

The FY 2021-22 year end balance for DIF was $10,172,000.

The following encumbrances were made against the fund in FY 2021-22:

  • ODI entered into a contract with Enterprise Network Solutions, Inc. (doing business as City Innovate) in the amount $730,431.12 in March of 2022. This contract provided use of proprietary software and services in support of establishing the DIF selection process and supporting ODI during the first cohort of DIF submissions and selection.
  • ODI entered into a contract with GovBloom, LLC (doing business as Bloom Works) in the amount of $1,600,000 in June of 2022 for Discovery and Research Facilitation Services in support of multiple DIF projects. These services include provisions of subject matter technical experts, user researchers and product managers to support ODI staff in their work on DIF projects.

No privately funded revenues were sought or received into DIF for either FY 2020-21 or 2021-22. AB 156 (2021-2022) renamed the Digital Innovation Services Revolving Fund to the Data and Innovation Services Revolving Fund. The fund was allocated an additional $20 million in funding in the approved FY 2022-23 budget. ODI anticipates significant expenditures in 2022-23.

Details about ODI’s work

Details about ODI’s work from 2020-2022 are in the appendices to this report.