Data steward

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In metadata, a data steward is a person that is responsible for maintaining a data element in a metadata registry. A data steward is a broad job role that incorporates processes, policies, guidelines and responsibilities for administering organizations' entire data in compliance with business and/or regulatory obligations. A data steward’s responsibility stems from an understanding of the business domain and the interaction of business processes with data entities/elements. A data steward ensures that there are documented procedures and guidelines for data access and use.

A data steward may share some responsibilities with a data custodian, and work with database/warehouse administrators and other related staff to plan and execute an enterprise-wide data governance, control and compliance policy.

Data stewardship roles are common when organizations are attempting to exchange data precisely and consistently between computer systems and reuse data-related resources. Master data management often makes references to the need for data stewardship for its implementation to succeed.

Data Steward Responsibilities[edit]

A data steward ensures that each assigned data element:

  1. Has clear and unambiguous data element definition.
  2. Does not conflict with other data elements in the metadata registry (removes duplicates, overlap etc.)
  3. Has clear enumerated value definitions if it is of type Code.
  4. Is still being used (remove unused data elements)
  5. Is being used consistently in various computer systems
  6. Has adequate documentation on appropriate usage and notes
  7. Documents the origin and sources of authority on each metadata element
  8. Is protected against unauthorized access or change

Benefits of data stewardship[edit]

Systematic data stewardship can foster:

  1. consistent use of data management resources
  2. easy mapping of data between computer systems and exchange documents
  3. lower costs associated with migration to (for example) Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Assignment of each data element to a person sometimes seems like an unimportant process. But many groups[which?] have found that users have greater trust and usage rates in systems where they can contact a person with questions on each data element.


The EPA metadata registry furnishes an example of data stewardship. Note that each data element therein has a "POC" (point of contact).

See also[edit]


  • Universal Meta Data Models, by David Marco and Michael Jennings, Wiley, 2004, page 93-94 ISBN 0-471-08177-9
  • Metadata Solution by Adrinne Tannenbaum, Addison Wesley, 2002, page 412
  • Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository, by David Marco, Wiley, 2000, pages 61–62
  • The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit, by Ralph Kimball et. el., Wiley, 1998, also briefly mentions the role of data steward in the context of data warehouse project management on page 70.
  • Developing Geospatial Intelligence Stewardship for Multinational Operations, by Jeff Thomas, US Army Command General Staff College, 2010,