Data Governance Standard for University Country Names and Codes
The University of Washington (“UW”) is a global institution, with a student, alumni, and research network that spans the entire world. To accurately represent UW’s global reach, institutional stakeholders need a way to consistently refer to countries in systems and reporting. A country’s name is not just a label on a chart, it is core to the history and culture of a group of people. As a result, agreeing on a standard list of country names, abbreviations, and code values for UW is an important and challenging task.
This policy outlines the foundation for a standard list of country names, abbreviations, and code values commonly referred to as “country codes”, that are to be used across all areas of the UW as the default when referring to countries in UW data systems and reporting.
This policy applies to all areas of the University including UW Medicine, UW Bothell, and UW Tacoma.
Roles and Responsibilities
Implementation Team – a technical team responsible for implementing and maintaining a technical solution to support the country code maintenance process and translating standards into action. Members include UW-IT staff and other UW technical staff:
- Configure UWCC standard, using GENC as the baseline.
- Develop a solution for programmatically identifying differences/changes between GENC published data and UWCC list.
- Implement the review decisions approved by the UWCC Sub Domain Data Steward and Data Governance Operational Committee.
- Enable the UW data user community to access the UWCC information through enterprise data tools.
UW Country Code Advisory Group (UWCC Advisory Group) – The role of this group is to act as a liaison between: the data user community, the UWCC Sub Domain Data Steward, Data Governance Operational Committee, and the implementation team. The UWCC Advisory Group will triage and communicate stakeholder requests up to the Country Codes Sub-Domain Data Steward, and down to the implementation team. Responsibilities include:
- Manage the intake process for resolving disputes and requests for changes from UW units.
- Research and develop recommendations for updates to the UWCC.
- Work closely with the Implementation Team and campus stakeholders to determine rationale for considering exceptions, exclusions, and extensions to the GENC standard that are the baseline for UWCC.
- Communicate the latest updates to the rest of the University.
- Organize meetings to introduce proposed changes and document decisions.
Country Codes Sub-Domain Data Steward – The Sub-Domain Data Steward represents the country codes as core data in strategic and operational data governance discussions. Responsibilities include:
- Provide institutional and organization authority to the UW Country Code solution and process.
- Consensus-builder role supports a strategic, cross-functional view of data for the benefit of the enterprise.
- Provide input to Data Governance discussions and decisions.
- Work closely with UW Country Code Advisory Group to evaluate the rationale for considering exceptions, exclusions, and extensions to the GENC standard that are the baseline for UWCC.
- Approve/update/reject the proposed changes to the UWCC name, abbreviations, and codes prior to the final review and approval by the Data Governance Operational Committee.
Applicable Data Domains
UWCC apply to the following data domains:
- Reference and Core Data
- Human Resources
- Advancement and Alumni Relations
- Property and Space Management
- A geopolitical entity that asserts sovereignty within a specified territory. Often called a nation or a state
- Country Code
- A short alphanumeric sequence that uniquely identifies a specific country. Typical country codes are either two or three letters in length or an integer numeric code.
- Country Name
- A language-specific representation of the preferred way to reference the country in speech or text. Typically includes a condensed version for regular use and a longer version for formal usage.
- Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 10-4
- FIPS 10-4 was a list of country names and two-letter country codes that was widely used among U.S. agencies and institutions. It was formally withdrawn as a standard on 2 September 2008 but remains in sporadic use among certain U.S. agencies. The current successor standard is the GENC.
- Geopolitical Entities Names and Codes (GENC)
- The U.S. Government profile of ISO 3166 Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions. It specifies an authoritative set of country codes and names for use by the Federal Government for information exchange, using ISO 3166 (Parts 1 and 2) names and code elements wherever possible, with modifications only where necessary to comply with U.S. law and U.S. Government recognition policy.
- ISO 3166 Country Codes
- An international standard for country codes and codes for their subdivisions promulgated by the International Standards Organization (ISO). The purpose is to define internationally recognized codes of letters and/or numbers that can be used to refer to countries and subdivisions.
- UW Country Code
- The authoritative set of country codes and names for use at the University of Washington; based on the US Government’s GENC standard, or its duly authorized successor.
The University of Washington Country Code (UWCC) list as an institutional standard governing the names and code values to be used in reference to countries in UW systems and reporting. As a U.S. institution, the UWCC standard will be a derivative of the U.S. Government GENC standard or its duly constituted successor. The UWCC will conform to the GENC unless the Country Codes Sub-Domain Data Steward and Data Governance Operational Committee determine to:
- Add new codes to the UWCC that are not currently defined in GENC; or
- Develop UW-specific country names that override those depicted in GENC.
All UW units are directed to use the UWCC as the authoritative source for country names, abbreviations, and code values that appear in any UW-owned information systems, websites, reports, or other deliverables.
UW Units that have a formal reporting obligation to an external agency that specifies a different standard may record and process country codes consistent with the external agency requirements. For example, some departments of the U.S. Federal Government specify alternate code structures such as the deprecated FIPS 10-4, or the use of ISO 3166 directly.
Units needing to reference UWCC for systems and/or internal or external reporting are directed to use the below data products for the most recent country names, abbreviations, and code values approved by UW Sub Domain Data Steward and Data Governance Operational Committee:
- Country Code Report in the BI Portal
- Country Code reference table in the Enterprise Data Warehouse
- Country Code web service in the Enterprise Web Services
Changes to the UWCC must:
- Go through an agreed-upon change management process that reviews the rationale for implementing changes to the GENC or deviating from GENC;
- Be approved by the Sub-Domain Data Steward and the Data Governance Operational Committee prior to publication and help ensure the change delivers values and balances risks
Updates to the UWCC will be processed in the following way:
- Changes to the UW Country Code can come in two ways:
- Automatic detection of changes to the underlying GENC standard published on GENC website and UWCC
- Receiving a change request from users
- The UWCC Advisory Group will collect all potential updates, and gather, summarize, and assess feedback about the potential updates from UW units. The Lead then will develop a set of recommendations and will present these recommendations to the Sub Domain Data Steward. These recommendations will take the shape of one of the following:
- Exception–UWCC retains the GENC country code values but substitutes an updated value for one or more associated attributes.
- Exclusion–UWCC excludes the GENC country code and associated values altogether.
- Extension–UWCC inserts new country code values and associated attributes that do not appear in GENC.
- No Change–UWCC retains the GENC country code values and associated attributes with no changes.
- The Sub-Domain Data Steward will evaluate each recommendation submitted by the UWCC Advisory Group and will approve as-is, approve with changes, or reject each one.
- The UWCC and Sub-Domain Data Steward will compile the results and present them to the Data Governance Operational Committee for final review and approval.
- The UWCC Advisory Group will then compile the decision results and provide them to the Implementation Team for the creation of the technical components that support those decisions.
- The UWCC Advisory Group is additionally responsible for communicating updates to stakeholders and interested parties across the UW community.