The Dawn of A New Era for Government Information
We are in the midst of an exciting time for data policy in the United States. There are few points in history when government’s policymakers have been so enthused by the topic of data – and in a promising way. As the Data Coalition’s new CEO, I’m excited to lead our organizations and members into this new era.
Whether you come from the open data, evidence, science, evaluation, statistics, or privacy community, there are many encouraging activities underway inside government to make data more accessible and useful. For those interested in an effective and efficient government that actually meets the needs of the American public, accessibility of information about policies and programs is essential.
Agencies are in the midst of implementing the bipartisan Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, or Evidence Act, which includes the OPEN Government Data Act, passed by Congress late last year. This means agencies are actively appointing Chief Data Officers to plan for making data useful at the point of collection. It means agencies are appointing new Evaluation Officers who will identify data gaps and use data to learn about whether government policies work. It also means agencies will be increasingly adopting data standards, publishing data inventories, and making more data available than ever before.
Government data must be used as a strategic asset – and we are on the cusp of realizing this vision. There will be much work ahead to ensure these laws and others are implemented well by federal agencies. Fortunately, the Data Coalition is advocating for better government data infrastructure, which has benefits for the American taxpayer, private firms, and our entire society.
With the passage of the monumental data laws late last year, the work of the Data Coalition is far from done. It’s really just beginning.
There are incredible opportunities for growth and renewed leadership as our policymakers increasingly recognize the importance of and need for open data, data quality, data accessibility, and data stewardship across every policy domain in government. In fact, this is what the Data Coalition is really all about: ensuring the policies are in place to enable government data to be useful and, therefore, used to benefit society.
The Data Coalition championed the Digital Transparency and Accountability (DATA) Act back in 2014. Five years later the benefits for the American public and policymakers are increasingly clear as data about how government spends its resources is available and transparent.
Beyond effective implementation of the Evidence Act and the OPEN Government Data Act, more attention is needed for the strategies that promote responsible use of artificial intelligence, foster transparency in areas like financial regulatory and grant reporting, and strengthen our technologies and capabilities for protecting privacy.
The members of the Data Coalition recognize that when the many data communities work collaboratively, data really can be used as a strategic asset. When policymakers work in a bipartisan, transparent manner to promote effective data policy, we can build stronger public trust in government information. And when we meaningfully use data to inform decisions in our society – the benefits are undeniable.
As the country’s premier voice on data policy, the Data Coalition is poised to grasp the opportunity to ensure government’s data are accessible for evidence-based policymaking, business decision-making, and public accountability.