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Roles and Responsibilities

Formerly: A Guide for Data Custodians and Data Managers

This is a guide for Data Custodians and Data Managers. It explains why these roles are important, and their associated responsibilities. It also describes how business areas can use the BC Geographic Warehouse (BCGW) to make their data holdings accessible to clients.

The page covers the following topics:

  • Getting the most out of the data we collect and manage
  • The role and obligations of Data Custodians and Data Managers
  • Using the BC Geographic Warehouse (BCGW) to distribute data
  • Where to find more information
Data Publishers Data Custodians Data Managers Data Stewards Metadata Editors

Table of Contents

It is all about the information

This guide is about managing information within the DataBC Program and making it available for decision making. The following points provide some context.

  • We use a lot of information
    • The Province collects and uses a wide variety of information.
    • Much of this information is collected by business areas that have a responsibility for inventory and providing access to this information.
  • Information is used for making decisions
    • It is the reason we collect and provide it.
    • The wider its access, the greater its potential.
  • Information integration adds value
    • The power of information for decision-making increases significantly when it is integrated with other related data.
    • Base mapping and other foundation data play a crucial part in providing a common geographic context for analysis and decision making.
  • Information standards are important
    • Standards provide the basis for information processing, integration and access using common sets of tools.
    • Lack of adherence to standards severely limits data use.
  • Information is costly
    • The Province spends considerable money, time and resources to collect information and manage it.
  • Information needs to be understood
    • Information used properly can provide immense value.
    • However, it can have the opposite effect if used inappropriately. Users need information about the data they intend to use in order to assure themselves of the data is fitness for purpose.
  • Information needs to be managed
    • Data are not static.
    • Over time, they are added to, updated, deleted, and reformatted, and so on.
    • Keeping information in usable form is not a trivial task. It requires active management.
  • Information needs to be protected
    • In many respects, information is a fragile resource.
    • It is easily corrupted and misused, and loses its value if it goes out of date, or is not properly described.
    • Some information is confidential, and needs to remain so.
    • Someone has to set the rules for using information and, having done so, step up to ensure the information is made available according to those rules.

The Data Custodian

Definition: Data Custodian

Am I a Data Custodian?

If you are a director with responsibility for the business (i.e., if you have authority based on legislation or policy), then you are probably also the Data Custodian.

Unless this custodianship role is formerly assigned to someone else, you have the obligations and accountability described here.

Obligations of a Data Custodian

If you are a Data Custodian you have these obligations:

  • manage the data as a valuable business asset through its entire lifecycle;
  • ensure the data is fit for the purposes for which it is collected and provided; and
  • stay in touch with the users of your data and respond to their needs:
    • by understanding the business environments of users and the information requirements of the business; and
    • by understanding the individual needs of users for access to information.

Responsibilities of a Data Custodian

If you are a Data Custodian, you have these responsibilities:

  • Data planning
    • You decide what data is collected, when and how, its definition and purpose, which policies and standards apply, and which resources are utilized to manage and maintain it.
  • Data content
    • You decide user access rules, how the data is stored, promoted, distributed and retired.
    • Users for their part must respect the applicable-use policies set down by the Data Custodian.
  • User advocacy
    • You decide how to respond to users’ business needs.
    • You must understand the needs of the entire community of users.
      • Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to meet all user requirements.
      • Rather, you should try to maximize the value of your data to users as a whole, balancing their respective needs.


The Data Manager

Definition: Data Manager

Am I a Data Manager?

You are a Data Manager if you have been directed by a Data Custodian to have the day-to-day responsibility for managing a data set.

Obligations of a Data Manager

The main obligation of a Data Manager is to ensure that the Data Custodian’s directions are properly fulfilled. There could be several Data Managers for a data holding, and the role can be delegated.

Responsibilities of a Data Manager

You will typically be responsible for some or all of these activities:

  • Data capture and storage
  • Data quality assurance
  • Metadata capture and maintenance
  • Define business rule for security and access to data
  • Data population and distribution*
  • User support

*The Data Manager is usually responsible for preparing data for population and distribution using the BCGW. The process is fairly straightforward, but it does involve a number of steps. DataBC will work with Data Managers to make the process as streamlined as possible.


The Data Steward

Definition: Data Steward

When the Data Custodian does not have the resources available to fulfill their responsibilities, or it may be more efficient to conduct activities in concert with another group, a Data Steward may become involved.

The Data Custodian and Data Steward should sign a written Data Stewardship Agreement that defines the specific responsibilities that are being delegated to the Data Steward by the Data Custodian.

Note: the involvement of a _Data Steward_ does not change the obligations of the _Data Custodian_. The _Data Custodian_ remains accountable for the governance and use of the data.

BC Data Catalogue Editor

An Editor is someone who can create and maintain BC Data Catalogue records on behalf of a Data Custodian. Editors must be approved by the Data Custodian for the Branch/Division in which they will be creating and/or maintaining records. To request editing access within a Branch/Division in the BC Data Catalogue, see How do I get authorization to publish records in the BC Data Catalogue?

Metadata Contacts

Contacts listed in metadata records play a key role for end-users. When a question, issue or concern with a dataset arises, the best way to get resolution is to reach out to a Contact in the metadata record.

Contacts can be listed as Custodians, Business Experts, Distributors or Points of Contact. See the Glossary for the definition of these roles.

Other Roles



Other documents explaining guidelnes, roles and responsibilities: