Mid-year Hot Takes: What the Data Coalition’s Up To


As Washington enters its mid-year hiatus – also known as the August recess – we thought it would be a good time to stop and reflect on the year to date.  

What a year it’s been so far!

The Data Coalition is leading the push for the policy changes that are needed to transform government information into open data. The first half of 2017 has been jam-packed with policy and event milestones. And we’re continuing to grow our community. So far this year, the Coalition’s membership has grown to 43 leading tech companies. We’ve welcomed 5 new Startup members, 4 Regular members, 1 Industry member, and 2 Partner members.

Our membership momentum has been complemented by some big wins for our policy agenda and some big events commemorating them.

Here’s what we’ve been up to.

On the Policy Front

Each of our most important legislative proposals was re-introduced for the new 115th Congress: the OPEN Government Data Act (S. 760; H.R. 1770); the Financial Transparency Act, introduced as H.R. 1530; the Statutes at Large Modernization Act (SALMA), H.R. 1729; and the Establishing Digital Interactive Transparency (EDIT) Act (H.R. 842).

On March 23, Executive Director Hudson Hollister testified before the House Committee on Government Reform. Hudson’s testimony emphasized the importance of the OPEN Government Data Act on the path towards greater transparency and government efficiency. The hearing was held during Sunshine Week and was part of an effort for House members to understand legislative proposals to foster more accountability within government entities. Watch the videos and read more about the hearing here.

In June, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the implementation of OPEN Government Data Act would cost about $2 million over a three year period, 2018-2021. And on July 24th, the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the bill (read the committee’s report here). These steps are significant milestones in a bill’s life – and important precursors for final passage.

Summits, Hackathon + More

Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Randy Hultgren (R-IL) headlined our third annual Financial Data Summit on March 16th, presented by Donnelley Financial Solutions, which came hot on the heels of the Financial Transparency Act’s introduction on March 15th. An op-ed by Rep. Hultgren explained how the bill allows financial regulatory data to flow automatically from regulated entities to agencies and investors, empowering analytics and reducing compliance costs. Rep. Maloney said at the Summit she expects the House to pass the Financial Transparency Act “this year.”

“Spending Data Unleashed”! – The DATA Act Hackathon, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, Amazon Web Services, and Kearney & Co., invited data specialists to examine how to DATA Act data can drive better management inside the government and greater accountability with the public. The Hackathon had 25 competitive teams from federal agencies, nonprofits, and tech companies. The winning teams included Qlik, Kearney & Co., and Booz Allen Hamilton. Special guest speakers kicked off the event – Matt Lira, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation; Congressman Jim Jordan (OH-4), Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Regulatory Policy; Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Christina Ho; and GSA 18F Executive Director Dave Zvenyach. Winning teams were featured at the DATA Act Summit on June 29th.

Open data met wide open spaces, and hard-working transparency leaders, when the Data Coalition hosted its Texas Data Demo Day on May 10, sponsored by Grant Thornton and in partnership with Open Austin. The event was held in downtown Austin, Texas, and the Comptroller of Texas Glenn Hegar delivered the Keynote address. The event highlighted the ongoing work of state and municipal leaders as they maximize transparency outside government and improve efficiency inside, by standardizing and publishing their data.

All Things DATA Act

It’s (a)live!! But, still a work in progress. On Tuesday, May 9, the Treasury Department publicly released the first-ever unified data set covering the finances and awards of the entire executive branch of the U.S. government. Treasury also announced its new beta.USASpending.gov site, which offers unprecedented ways to explore and categorize spending data: by account, by award, by budget function, by object class. This data set culminates our six-year battle to pass and implement the DATA Act of 2014, which would not have been possible without the support of our members, the hard work of leaders in agencies and Congress, and you, data enthusiasts!

Our 2017 DATA Act Summit set records: our best attended event (738 registrants), with the highest number of speakers (66, including 6 Members of Congress), and the most exhibitors we’ve ever hosted (25)! At the DATA Act Summit, we all felt the celebratory energy as we revisited the arduous path that led to a successful role out of the DATA Act, and eagerly looked at the possibilities that the datasets would bring to efficiency and transparency. Together, we look forward to continuing the momentum of open data reform!

But this year’s DATA Act Summit was our last one – for very good reasons.

Mark Your Calendar – There’s More!

We’re not done yet! There’s much to look forward to this fall.

We’ll continue our campaign on Capitol Hill for the OPEN Government Data Act, the Financial Transparency Act, SALMA, and EDIT. Stay tuned for updates on our progress!

On September 26th, our sister organization, the Data Foundation, will host Data Transparency 2017, the nation’s largest open data conference, in Washington. See you there!

On October 19th, with Grant Thornton, we’ll host our California Data Demo Day in Sacramento.

And DATA Act implementation will continue. This fall, the Treasury Department’s new spending transparency website, beta.usaspending.gov, will become the government’s official portal for open data on federal finance. In November, every federal agency’s inspector general will report on its agency’s progress in transforming spending information into open data.

We hope you’ll join our campaign for open data reforms this fall! Open data is good for our government and society – and also opens up new business opportunities. Our members recognize these opportunities – which is why they are the leading data analytics, data management, and data innovation firms in the United States. We could not wage our policy campaign without our members’ continuing support.