The Data Coalition celebrated its sixth anniversary this year!! None of this would have been possible without the continued support of our members, Board of Directors, and open data allies. Thank you!
As we look toward 2019 and beyond, we want to highlight some of the Coalition’s biggest accomplishments and changes that occurred throughout 2018.
Our membership base continued to expand! We welcomed 16 new member companies, representing consulting firms, application and platform providers, data analytics firms, and data vendors. At the close of the year, our Coalition includes the support of nearly 50 members.
Together, we have consolidated a coalition of congressional support for open data – ending with the passage of the OPEN Data Act, defined and strengthened momentum behind the case for regulatory technology (RegTech) in the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and across government, led the charge on a government-wide mandate for federal agencies to publish all their information as open data and modernizing federal grant reporting, and continued to solidify DATA Act implementation efforts within the government and private-sector stakeholders. Our Coalition remained the strongest voice for standardized data advocacy in the federal government space.
We kicked the year off with our annual Capitol Hill Fly-in. Members ventured across the Hill to meet with different congressional offices, including the U.S. House Speaker and Minority Whip offices, Representatives Ted Yoho (FL-3-R), Mike Quigley (IL-5-D), Derek Kilmer (WA-6-D), and Dr. Virginia Foxx (NC-5-R). Pictures from the day can be found here.
And, that was just the beginning. Like most years, our event schedule was jam-packed. Through the course of the year, our organization hosted two major conferences, RegTech Data Summit 2018 and Data Demo Day, and partnered with over a handful of different organizations and government entities, including OMB and Bipartisan Policy Center, Thomson Reuters and CGI Federal. Our events attracted more than 1,100 people from across government, the executive branch, Congress, academia, civil society, tech, and the private sector.
The Year of RegTech
“Over just the past two years, Google searches for the term have increased sevenfold,” according to DFIN’s report, “How Data will Determine the Future of RegTech.” The report outlines that RegTech encompasses “automating regulatory reporting, deriving insights from regulatory information, and sharing information on complex markets and products.”
Knowing that our growing membership includes over 20 cutting-edge RegTech companies and in the context of our on-going advocacy efforts in the RegTech domain, it was only appropriate that our first major programming event of the year was the inaugural RegTech Data Summit, which we previously branded as the Financial Data Summit. The Summit focused on how data standardization will enable RegTech solutions and applications, like blockchain, will thrive only when regulators adopt a government-wide data structure.
Setting the framework for the Summit, former SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar delivered the morning keynote. The Commissioner discussed how the growth of efficient reporting systems and RegTech solutions would be exponential after data collection and reporting reforms. “RegTech promises streamlined reporting and lower costs for capital formation…to achieve this, the SEC must have an openness for change and engage the private sector,” he said during his morning address.
Coming off the success of our inaugural RegTech Data Summit, our Coalition worked to overcome an anti-open data bill, the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act (H.R. 5054). The legislative proposal would have hindered the ability for financial regulators to modernize the way they collect information from corporations. For almost five years, the House has attempted to pass a measure that would prevent the SEC from collecting searchable financial data from most public companies. The measure was eventually omitted from the legislative package. We were thrilled to see our community’s dedication to advocacy payoff.
At the midpoint of 2018, on June 28, the SEC voted to mandate inline XBRL, or iXBRL, for all corporate financial filings. The SEC’s decision came at the end of a 5-year campaign to persuade the SEC to adopt iXBRL. The Data Coalition first called on the agency to adopt iXBRL in July 2013, then again in May 2015, and in March 2017.
Energy and interest in RegTech continued to grow throughout the year. In September, the Data Coalition team hosted our first-ever Manhattan-based RegTech event, “Modernizing Financial Regulatory Reporting: New Opportunities for Data and RegTech” with Thomson Reuters (Refinitiv). The half-day event brought together current and former government officials and industry experts to explore what’s next in U.S. federal financial regulatory reporting. Former SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes outlined his views on the state of financial regulatory reporting at the SEC.
Early in the fall, the House of Representatives held its first hearing on Standard Business Reporting (SBR) and the Financial Transparency Act (FTA), two legislative initiatives that would enable RegTech applications. Coalition board member Matt Vickers of Xero testified before House Oversight Committee to discuss SBR’s benefits to Australia’s economy and how the FTA could lead to similar benefits and savings in the United States.
2018 proved to be a year in which RegTech dominated discussions across government, Congress, and the private sector. The replacement of documents with standardized data will bring new transparency and new RegTech applications, like blockchain for the financial industry. Our Coalition will continue to build on the momentum built in 2018 and look to 2019 to solidify our organization’s achievements.
Legislative Efforts on the Hill
In addition to our work on RegTech, the Data Coalition worked throughout the year to advance two key legislative measures, the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (S. 760, H.R. 1770) and the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act (H.R. 4887, S.3484). We also continued our ongoing work on DATA Act implementation and congressional oversight.
We have been working on the OPEN Government Data Act for over 3 years, along with BSA, Center for Data Innovation, Sunlight Foundation and dozens more. Earlier in the year, the legislation was included as Title II in Speaker Ryan’s Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEBP) Act. The package passed the House but the Senate has not taken up the measure. Stay tuned for updates on the OPEN Government Data Act.
Concurrently, we proudly endorsed bipartisan legislation that would modernize federal grant reporting, the GREAT Act, which would codify the DATA Act’s Section 5 pilot program. Former Executive Director Hudson Hollister was invited to testified before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs to discuss modernizing federal grant reporting.
The original sponsor of the GREAT Act, Rep. Foxx (NC-5-R) penned an op-ed in The Hill covering the benefits of the bill and advocated for its swift passage in both chambers. Rep. Foxx called on her colleagues “in the House and Senate to support the GREAT Act and bring grant reporting into the 21st century.”
The GREAT Act has passed the House of Representatives (link to debate and vote), awaits a vote in the Senate.
Finally, our Coalition continues to diligently aid in the on-going efforts of the DATA Act implementation. Treasury’s DATA Act team has made numerous improvements and additions to the USAspending.gov site, most notably the rollout of DataLab. The analytics hub includes a Daily Government Spending Tracker, homelessness analysis, federal account explorer, budget function analysis, and contract explorer. Since agencies began reporting in 2017, USAspending.gov now has a full financial year of agencies financial information in open, machine-readable formats.
Government oversight bodies continue to scrutinize the implementation of the DATA Act. In fact, the Government Accountability Office issued over 10 reports reviewing the implementation of the DATA Act. Our Coalition will work to ensure Congress and agencies remain engaged.
Our Coalition looks towards a future where our membership is at the forefront of data standardization and emerging technology, making our government transparent and efficient.
2018 has been a year of celebration and change for our organization, marked by significant advancements of our policy agenda and rich partnerships. We also hit a milestone internally with the departure of our founder and executive director, Hudson Hollister. The baton was passed to Sarah Joy Hays, who has been the organization’s Acting Executive Director since June. Sarah Joy, previously Chief of Staff, has been with the Data Coalition since 2013 and is ideally positioned to lead the Coalition during this time of transition.
With new leadership, as well as enthusiastic and passion membership, we are excited for 2019! The Data Coalition is optimistic we will see even greater developments in government open data this coming year, and we look forward to having you part of the journey.