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What is data governance?

Data plays an increasingly important role in today’s society. Data is used to make (management) decisions, offer novel and effective services and improve people’s lives across all walks of life. 

​However, effective data use can only be achieved through proper data governance. This entails the following: 

  • mapping and grouping of data;

  • estimating the value of data; 

  • tagging data with understandable descriptions, i.e. metadata;

  • continuously measuring and improving data quality;

  • ​managing the lifecycle of data, including the archiving and disposal of data when its value and functions change over time;

  • making data available to potential re-users in a convenient, up-to-date and reliable manner.

Data governance is closely intertwined with the core operations of institutions and their perspectives on data reuse – effective data governance can only be implemented if data owners, stewards and managers have a good understanding of the nuances of both data generation and use!

Key data governance activities in Estonia

Data governance is an increasingly paramount and actively developing area of activity in Estonia. There is currently a significant shortage of competent data managers, as well as a lack of skills, practical guidelines and tools supporting data management in the country as a whole. 

Thus, from the perspective of data governance, the following long-term activities are of utmost importance: 

  • Offering training to current and starting data stewards and managers;

  • Facilitating the sharing of best practices and the exchange of information through our data network. All interested parties from the public sector are welcome to join the network. To join the network, please send an email to;

  • Developing and managing practical guidelines for data governance;

  • Developing state data catalogue software RIHAKE and implementing it in institutions.

​The main objective for 2023 is to start developing our data governance support system. This will lead to the establishment of tools and methods that will help institutions to better assess the current state of their data governance, identify bottlenecks and develop sustainably. Among other things, a model of skills and competencies in the field of data as well as a standard model of data management processes are currently under development and the mapping of needs for the central support system (competence centre) is also underway. For more information, please send an email to

You can find more detailed descriptions of the activities planned for the coming years in the action plan for the field of data.

Leading and supporting data governance in Estonia

The lead authority for data governance in Estonia is the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, whose functions include: 

  • strategic management of data governance and development of action plans in this area;

  • organisation of work of the data expert network; 

  • leading the development and management of data governance guidelines; 

  • representation of Estonia in the EU data working groups. 

​Statistics Estonia is responsible for the practical management of data description and data quality activities. In addition, Statistics Estonia is tasked with the management of relevant guidelines and has also established a centre of excellence to provide support to institutions in conducting practical data description and data quality work. More information about the activities of Statistics Estonia in the field of data governance can be found here

The Information System Authority (RIA) provides technological support in the implementation of data governance. From the data governance perspective, the main responsibility of RIA is the management and development of the data catalogue software RIHAKE

The co-operation of these three institutions has ensured the availability of guidelines, tools and support covering basic data governance activities. The primary responsibility of other institutions is to implement data governance activities according to the needs of the sector.

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