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I realized upon a recent watching of TNG that I cannot recall any suggestion that anyone works for Data.

This is quite odd for the following reasons:

  • It is very clear that Picard, Riker, LaForge, Worf, and Crusher all have direct reports. Even in the case Troi, who might be considered unique, I am pretty sure there at some point is some offhand remark that she tells someone to make an appointment with some other therapist.
  • Data is the highest-ranking officer on the ship, after Picard and Riker.
  • Data leads Operations. This is not some minor department, and presumably needs at least a few dozen officers. Even if we posit that Data can handle Ops alone (iffy), it wouldn't make sense for the Enteprise to lack a department that other ships need, if only because it would fail to train new officers. Plus, obviously someone needs to take over when Data is indisposed, away, broken, or dead.
  • Data often leads Science missions and these canonically do have other subdepartments with officers.
  • This could have been an interesting area for interpersonal plotlines, etc.

So: Does Data have any direct reports?

And assuming not, do we have any behind-the-scene information on whether this was merely an oversight or whether it was a deliberate decision on the part of the writers?

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  • Are workers in 10 Forward required to be in Starfleet; or does the Enterprise allow private, commercial contract vendors not subject to Starfleet command to provide service? If yes, then Lal might be a direct report to Data, if Lal was required to be in a Starfleet org chart for her work in 10 Forward? Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 17:51
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    Well, at the very least, there's Spot.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 19:35
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    @SillybutTrue at least 2 staff in 10 Forward are civilians, most well known is Guinan, there's also Ben (only seen in the episode "Lower Decks") Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 20:50
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    @Valorum: OK, good find.... but book canon and all that... Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 0:57
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    @Spencer Spot is a cat. Data is her direct report. Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 14:35

2 Answers 2

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Within the show, I can't think of a single example of Data having any direct reports sitting under him*. There are no examples of his writing crew evaluations, nor of him training junior staff or shadowing their work as we see Riker, Troi, Worf and Crusher doing.

You're not wrong that he probably has two entire sections (Science and Ops) where the team leaders report to him, it's just that he's so damned efficient that we never see it. Instead of playing hooky on the holodeck, eating chocolate sundaes and then doing his evaluation reports at the last minute, he did his at 4am while simultaneously reviewing sensor logs and writing an ode.


Moving down the canon scale, there are some examples of Data's reports. In the novel Q&A, Data is described as having a sensor officer reporting to him. This makes sense because some sensors would be part of the Science Division.

That caused Beverly to shudder. Previously, Miranda had been a sensor officer reporting to Data, and it was during one of the D’s missions that Marla Aster died in an accident on an away mission, leaving her young son, who was with her on the ship, orphaned.

Similarly, in the novel Possession, Data is described as having a team of scientists under him, but his direct report is said to be their senior officer.

“I currently serve with the science team; I’ve been assigned numerous research projects involving stellar phenomena. Mostly, I work with the computer, collating data already collected. Since it’s a job I can come back to at any time, it allows me the freedom to act as a liaison for several of the guests.”

“Interesting,” Skel said, nodding. “And how many people are involved in your science team?”

“More than forty crew members. I interact with at least twelve of them on the data I’m working on, and they in turn interact with higher-ranking scientists. The senior officer of our team reports to Commander Data.”


*Data is ship's Second Officer so in very specific sense, everyone who isn't the Captain or First Officer reports to him, but that clearly isn't what you're asking.

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  • I don't think the footnote is really needed. It's true that people will sometimes use the phrase "reports to" as some sort of euphemism for "is outranked by / is subordinate to", but I think it's pretty clear that this is wrong, given the plain meaning of "reports". Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 16:42
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    @ThePopMachine - I don't think you're wrong, but I wanted to forestall any argument about subordination.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 19:29
  • " D's (e)missions " Heh heh. Commented May 8, 2023 at 22:19
  • There's an example on the show where Data should have been involved but wasn't. In "Lessons", Lt.Com Daren goes to Riker to request time on the sensor arrays and later to deal with a personnel issue. Logically, if Data was in overall charge of sciences, she should have approached him first, but she doesn't, and Riker doesn't note that as an issue. Compare the situation with Barclay in Engineering, where it went from La Forge to Riker and finally to Picard, the right way. I think the issue is that the creators simply never thought about it. Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 7:06
  • @KeithMorrison - Riker reports that Daren has requested extra time (presumably via Ops (e.g. Data), not that she requested it from him.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 7:23
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In short, outside of his role as Science Officer, Data is commander to the other command staff officers, whose sections report to them personally and they in turn report to Data on the day-to-day ship operations. Data reports to Riker. Riker runs the ship. Picard commands it and reports to the Admirals at Star Fleet.

Data has no personal staff in the same way that Picard and Riker don't have personal staff.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Data may not have "personal staff" (whatever that is) but the way that chart is drawn he does have at least 5 direct reports. Can you reconcile that with your answer?
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 13:54
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    The section officers aren't "his" reports. They belong to Picard, but as #2, Data acts as an extension of Picard's command authority. Picard doesn't manage ship operations because he has bigger things to worry about (and paperwork to review that needs command level authority signatures, which Data does not have). The stsff officers have more of a peer relationship, but Data directs them
    – Rogwump
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 14:00
  • You seem to be mistaking his command position (as Second Officer) for his role (As Science Officer)
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 14:36
  • @DavidW - Riker has to do personnel reports for loads of people, including Worf, so it's pretty clear that he does have people reporting to him outside of Data
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 14:39
  • There's just no evidence this is how the org chart actually is. Riker seems to be the layer of management between everyone else and the captain. Possibly excluding medical. Per my comment last year all the minor science departments appear to be coordinated by Riker. And Riker is naturally a layer higher than LaForge managing engineering reports and Worf managing security reports. Data is high on the org chart but there's nothing below him. It's like he's just a full time expert. Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 22:54

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