Forging an Open Data Agenda at Data Transparency 2013


This week, hundreds of people representing over 29 federal agencies, 40 transparency organizations, legislative staffers, tech firms and activists will join Data Transparency 2013 — the nation’s first open data policy conference.

Data Transparency 2013 is a bipartisan affair. This will be the first time that Obama White House officials will headline a tech policy event alongside GOP congressional leaders.

Our purpose is threefold:

  • Examine the open data impact. Executive and legislative branch leaders will discuss their efforts to open up federal data sets in key domains, including spending, regulation, and management.
  • Explore the open data opportunity. Tech innovators will showcase new research, publication, and analysis tools that would streamline federal processes and shine a light on waste, fraud and abuse.
  • Forge an open data agenda. Public and private sector stakeholders will outline specific policy steps to open change-resistant areas of the federal government’s data portfolio, such as spending and financial regulation.

What does that third goal mean? It’s great to see such widespread support for the idea of open data. But in some crucial areas of federal data, unless Congress passes legislation, nothing will change. In these areas, we have to design, and persuade politicians to pass, the policy mandates that will drive it.

We need your help to figure out what those mandates should look like. So, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and split into seven domain-specific breakout sessions. Each session is tasked with collaboratively recommending three to five policy steps by which Congress and/or the executive branch can transform information from its respective domain into open data. For example, “Passing the DATA Act” would be a great recommendation for the session on spending data — but not the only possible one. The important point is that conference attendees should develop concrete, measurable actions.

This process is an experiment in collaborative policy development. Recommendations from these breakout sessions will inform a policy agenda going forward for the Data Transparency Coalition:  

  1. Federal Spending (sponsored by Esri) — Daniel Schuman, CREW 
  2. Management and Performance — Kat Townsend, USAID 
  3. Financial Regulation — Danny Goroff, Sloan Foundation
  4. General RegulationTBD 
  5. Taxes — Cinthia Schuman, Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Data Project & Tom Pollak, Urban Institute
  6. Legislation and the Code — Jim Harper, Cato Institute 
  7. Judicial Data — Ed Walters, FastCase 

For those who cannot join us in person, we invite you to offer your policy proposals using the conference hashtag #opendata2013 and the relevant session number.