Today, I attended an expert roundtable on Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset, co-hosted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Center for Open Data Enterprise. Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset is a new and exciting Cross-Agency Priority Goal of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), and I am thrilled to co-lead this effort with my colleagues, Pradeep Belur, Chief of Staff at the Small Business Administration, Suzette Kent, Federal Chief Information Officer, Nancy Potok, Chief Statistician of the U.S., and Jack Wilmer, Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and IT Modernization, Office of Science and Technology Policy. Together, we will lead the charge on the Administration’s goal of delivering a comprehensive, forward-looking Federal Data Strategy to foster economic growth and innovation, make government more effective, and improve transparency and oversight.
Counting, measuring, and producing data is one of the oldest and most essential functions of the Federal government. Starting with the Constitutional requirement to count our nation’s people, the government has been called on to provide information on business, agriculture, trade, government spending, and so on. At the Department of Commerce alone, we collect more than 20 terabytes of data a day.
There is no question that this data is valuable. Businesses that rely on government data generate close to $400 billion in revenue, while delivering products and services that affect the decisions of countless other entities across the globe. Additionally, government data can touch people’s lives in a very palpable way, such as the communications platform on NOAA’s satellites, which relays distress signals to guide land and sea rescues.
But more can be done to further the use of data in the private sector and in government. To maximize the utility of the data we produce, we have to get the data out and, sometimes, bring the data together. We need to keep asking whether we are collecting the right information in the right way from the right sources. And we must always uphold our legal and ethical obligations to protect the data we collect and manage as well as ensure confidentiality. This will require a coordinated effort to study what works and what does not.
Today’s roundtable was a first step in doing just that, bringing together a wide array of professionals with expertise on how to best use Federal data to deliver government services and grow the economy. Participants included executives from industry, officials from Federal and local agencies, non-profit thought-leaders, and academic researchers from across the country. We discussed successes and challenges that are common across government, affecting a wide range of programs and policies. We will use the lessons learned to help us develop specific principles, practices, and actions for the Federal Data Strategy. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a report on the takeaways of today’s roundtable.