Posted at 11:36 AM
As “America’s data agency,” the Department of Commerce collects, processes, and disseminates approximately 36% of federal open data. That data fuels planning, research and operations that support society and the economy. Commerce is continuously working to improve its delivery of services. To help advance the Department's open data efforts, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker convened the Commerce Data Advisory Council (CDAC) in 2015. The CDAC is comprised of top experts from across the public, private, and non-profit sectors who provide guidance and insight to help institutionalize stronger data collection and dissemination at Commerce. The CDAC held its fifth and final meeting on Friday, October 28, and Secretary Pritzker had the opportunity to discuss the Council’s recommendations for Commerce’s open data initiative.
First and foremost, the Council advocated for institutionalizing the Commerce Data Service (CDS), which is an innovative group of data scientists and software developers that maximizes the value of Commerce data through collaborations across federal agencies and with public and private sector partners. Though only a few months old, the CDS is thriving and has developed a reputation for meaningful innovation through its nimble, start-up model. To strengthen and grow the CDS, the Council recommended it should invest in exciting data science projects to capture the nation’s imagination, as well as continue the Commerce Data Academy to empower government employees to harness the power of data for the good of their organizations.
In addition, the Council recommended expanding the work the Department of Commerce is doing with leaders in the private sector on exciting technology and data partnerships. For example, CDAC recommended the Commerce Data Service should strongly consider leveraging a “labs concept” through Joint Venture (JV) programs and Creative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) in order to experiment with CDS-private industry collaborations. Through the creation of “labs,” Commerce could harness private sector R&D capabilities to bring game-changing capabilities to the Department and government at-large.
During her keynote address, Secretary Pritzker underscored the importance of making data useable and accessible. Datasets are rich sources of economic, demographic, and scientific intelligence, but big data has little value unless it is made accessible and usable for all businesses, entrepreneurs, and people. Thus, the Department of Commerce, via the Commerce Data Service, should prioritize the data initiative in administrations to come.