What are the Key Data Governance Roles and Responsibilities?

March 25, 2024
15 min read

Making good choices is essential for any business, but imagine you need to make a decision based on unreliable or inconsistent information. It is a common concern when companies collect a lot of data that turns out to be messy, outdated, or even wrong. This confusion can lead to bad decisions that cost money and valuable time.

Data governance is the solution that can overcome this problem! It includes managing frameworks, policies, and processes that ensure the information is accurate, secure, and easy to find for everyone who needs it within an organization. This article will explain different data governance roles and how they work together so your company can confidently rely on data to make smart decisions.

Key Data Governance Roles and Responsibilities

A well-defined data governance structure relies on a team of individuals playing distinct but vital roles. Each role contributes to guaranteeing the data is authentic, protected, and readily available for informed decision-making. Let’s delve into the key data governance roles and responsibilities:

Executive Sponsor(s)

Executive sponsors, often high-level executives like the CEO, CFO, or CIO, act as the driving force behind data governance initiatives within the organization. Their leadership is essential to secure the program's success. Their responsibilities include:

  • Setting the Vision: They define the overall data governance strategy, aligning it with the organization’s broader goals. Sponsors clearly define how data will be managed and utilized to drive strategic decisions.
  • Defending the Cause: Executive sponsors are strong advocates for data governance. They are responsible for communicating its importance throughout the community and securing buy-in and commitment from all tiers of management. In addition, they actively promote the value of data governance, highlighting how it benefits the organization by enabling better decision-making.
  • Securing Resources: Implementing and maintaining a data governance program requires dedicated resources. Executive sponsors are essential in securing the necessary budget, personnel, and technology to launch the program and ensure its ongoing success.

Data Governance Council (DGC)

The Data Governance Council acts as the organization's data governance control. This senior-level committee, typically composed of representatives from various departments (IT, legal, finance, and business), is vital in developing and overseeing the data governance strategy.

Here’s a closer look at the DGC’s key responsibilities:

  • Strategic Direction: They lead the crafting of the overall data governance strategy. It includes defining clear policies, standards, and procedures for data management across the organization. This strategy ensures data quality, consistency, and accessibility and empowers data-driven decisions.
  • Policy Approval: The DGC plays a key role in reviewing and approving data governance policies. These policies establish data ownership, classification, security, access control, and quality management guidelines. By evaluating these, the DGC confirms whether they are aligned with the organization’s needs and regulations.
  • Issue Resolution: DGC is a central point for addressing data governance concerns. If issues related to data quality, security, or compliance arise, they are escalated for review and resolution. This guarantees any potential problems are identified and addressed to maintain the integrity of the organization’s data.

Data Steward(s)

Data Stewards are advocates for specific data assets within an organization. They act as subject matter experts for their assigned data domains, ensuring quality, accuracy, and adherence to data governance policies.

Here’s a breakdown of a data steward’s responsibilities:

  • Data Domain Ownership: Each data steward is responsible for a specific set of data assets, like customer data, financial data, or product data. They must deeply understand the assigned data and its role within the organization.
  • Ensuring Data Quality: Data stewards are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the quality of their assigned data. This includes identifying and addressing data errors, inconsistencies, and missing values. They work to implement data quality processes and metrics to ensure the data is reliable and fit for purpose.
  • Compliance: Data stewards are responsible for verifying data compliance with relevant regulations and internal policies. This allows them to confirm their assigned data is managed and used accordingly.
  • Collaboration: Their responsibilities also include collaborating with various stakeholders, including data users, data custodians, and IT teams. They work together to define data ownership, usage guidelines, and access controls for their assigned data assets.

Data Custodian(s)

Data custodians guard the organization’s data storage infrastructure. Here’s a deeper look at the data custodian’s role:

  • Data Guardian: Data custodians ensure the data is stored securely and reliably. They are responsible for choosing and managing suitable data storage technologies like databases, data warehouses, and cloud storage solutions as per the requirement. Moreover, they also implement data security measures like encryption and authentication to safeguard sensitive information. 
  • Access Control: They define and enforce control policies that determine who can access specific data assets and what actions they can perform (read, write, modify). This assures data is only reachable by authorized personnel and for legitimate purposes.
  • Disaster Recovery Planning: Data custodians play a crucial role in disaster recovery planning. They develop and implement procedures to ensure data can be retrieved quickly in case of a system failure or security breach. This minimizes data loss and downtime, providing business continuity.

Data Administrator(s)

Data administrators are the technical backbone of data governance. Here's what data administrators typically handle:

  • Infrastructure Management: Data administrators maintain the data infrastructure, including databases, warehouses, and integration tools. They ensure these systems are running smoothly, optimized for performance, and properly configured to support data governance policies.
  • Data Transformation: When required, they sometimes perform data transformations, which involve basic cleaning and preparing raw data for analysis. This provides data consistency and readiness for data users.
  • Access Support: Admins may also provide technical support to data users who encounter issues accessing or utilizing data.

Data User(s)

Data users are the individuals who utilize the organization's data to make informed decisions, generate reports, or perform data analysis. They encompass a wide range of personnel, including:

  • Analysts: They act as the investigative arm of data utilization. Analysts delve into data sets, employing various analytical techniques to identify trends, patterns, and hidden insights. Their work helps uncover valuable information that informs strategic decision-making across the organization.
  • Business Users: Business users act as a bridge between data and action by utilizing data for various tasks critical to their daily operations. This might involve using data to forecast sales trends, develop targeted marketing campaigns, or perform customer segmentation for more effective product offerings.
  • Data Scientists: Data scientists are the architects of knowledge extraction from data. They possess a blend of statistical expertise, programming skills, and domain knowledge. Additionally, they employ advanced analytical techniques and machine learning algorithms to uncover deeper insights and predictive patterns hidden within complex data sets.

While not directly responsible for data governance, data users play a vital role in its success. Here's how:

  • Responsible Data Usage: Data users are expected to adhere to established data governance policies when accessing, utilizing, and sharing data. This includes following access controls, reporting data quality issues, and using data responsibly.
  • Feedback Loop: They are valuable sources of feedback for data governance initiatives. By reporting data quality concerns or suggesting improvements to data access, data users help identify areas for improvement and assure data governance is relevant and practical.

Enhance Data Governance with Airbyte


Ensuring data quality and consistency is crucial for effective data governance. This often involves tackling challenges related to data integration and management. Airbyte is a perfect solution here. This data integration platform will help you streamline the process of connecting various data sources and destinations under one platform. By leveraging Airbyte, you can significantly strengthen your data governance efforts. Here’s how:

  • Centralized Data Management: Airbyte offers 350+ pre-built connectors to automate data integration tasks. It eliminates the need for manual extractions, a significant source of errors, reducing the risk of inaccurate data entering the system. This simplifies data access and promotes consistent data handling practices.
  • User and Data Authentication: Airbyte strengthens data governance by supporting various user authentication methods, such as Basic HTTP, Bearer Token, API Key, OAuth, and Session Token in the connector builder. This ensures that only authorized users can access data, adhering to best practices for data security. 
  • Programmatic Integrations: PyAirbyte, its Python library, empowers developers to leverage Airbyte's functionalities programmatically within their workflows. This allows for greater flexibility and customization for complex data integration and transformation needs with Python programming.
  • Data Security: Airbyte Cloud maintains data governance by prioritizing security. It has SOC 2 Type II and ISO 27001 certifications, demonstrating its adherence to rigorous security standards. Additionally, it encrypts data in transit with TLS (Transport Layer Security) to safeguard data movement between source and destination. 
  • Open-Source: Airbyte's open-source nature fosters transparency and collaboration, which are essential for effective data governance. The open-source model allows data governance teams to scrutinize Airbyte's codebase, ensuring it adheres to security best practices and data handling policies.


Effective data governance relies on a collaborative effort across various teams within an organization. This article explores a well-defined framework with clear data governance roles and responsibilities to empower everyone to manage data effectively. The collaborative approach ensures data accuracy, security, and accessibility—the foundation for informed decision-making.

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