A year in review: the Data Foundation in 2016

What a first year the Data Foundation has had!

We launched in January with an ambition to become the leading industry-focused open data research organization. And we got busy, very busy: our year was crowded with educational programing, the first substantive research report on the DATA Act, the nation’s largest-ever open data conference - and much more.

Here’s what we achieved in 2016, thanks to our generous supporters.

Education: Training Federal Leaders on Open Data

The first beneficiaries of transforming government information into open data are the people who use government information most: civil servants! But the language of open data - standards, bulk downloads, APIs - is intimidating.

The Data Foundation is fixing that with educational programming that introduces federal leaders to the possibilities of the open data transformation in their area of expertise. This year, we started with spending, because that’s where the first transformation is happening, and soon!

In May, the Data Foundation and the Performance Institute presented our first intensive training program on the DATA Act. Our lecturers included Treasury officials, White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) representatives, and agency leaders working to transform federal agency and grantee spending reports into open data. View the syllabus and lots of session videos here!

Our second DATA Act training program took place on September 29. This one delved into technical details, including an introduction of Treasury’s new DATA Act Broker - open-source software that helps agencies report their spending as standardized, open data. (An 18F blog post explains how the broker was developed.) You’ll find our lecturers’ slides here!

Research: Making a Compelling Case for Transformation

Open data transformations promise to make government information more transparent, easier to analyze, and cheaper to report. But policymakers need to understand what open data is, and how it could work, before they’ll embrace the needed policy changes. That’s why the Data Foundation seeks to deliver high-quality research that is understandable and interesting - even for non-technical audiences.

In July the Foundation and MorganFranklin Consulting unveiled the first-ever in-depth research paper on the DATA Act. The DATA Act: Vision & Value describes the law’s history and mandates, surveys its benefits, and outlines the challenges it faces.

Key insights first published in The DATA Act: Vision & Value include:

  • How standardized spending data could allow a government-wide data analytics center to recover up to $1.6 billion from fraud, waste, and abuse.

  • The DATA Act’s potential to publish the full life cycle of federal spending—from appropriation and allocation to obligation and disbursement—and how life cycle transparency benefits citizens, agencies, and watchdogs.

  • How the long-term success of the DATA Act depends on Treasury’s and OMB’s willingness to retire legacy reporting processes made redundant by the new law.

In November, the Foundation and Grant Thornton Public Sector co-published The State of the Union of Open Data, 2016, providing a comprehensive picture of the status of the open data movement in the United States. Based on interviews with the government and technology leaders who participated in our Data Transparency 2016 conference, the paper confirms that the open data revolution is just in its beginning stages and summarizes the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Events: Bringing Together the Open Data Community

We hosted the nation’s largest-ever open data event in September: Data Transparency 2016 (DT2016), bringing together over one thousand government leaders, tech industry innovators, and supporters of the open data transformation. DT2016 was presented by Socrata. You can view the full agenda here.

As one of its three program tracks, DT2016 featured the first-ever White House Open Data Innovation Summit. To host the Summit, we were honored to partner with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House OMB, and the General Services Administration.

The White House event highlighted the Obama Administration’s work in opening U.S. government data and surveyed the path forward to continue the progress. You can watch the webcast and view speakers’ slides here.

Looking Ahead

We’re just getting started. To support the transformation of all government information from disconnected documents into standardized, open data, we’ll deliver unique research products, more educational programming, and another big policy conference next year.

Here’s what we’re planning!

  • In January: our first Standard Business Reporting research paper, co-published with PwC

  • In January: our first XBRL research paper

  • In January: our first Grant Innovation Roundtable, sponsored by Workiva and StreamLink

  • In April: DATA Act 2020, a research paper co-published with Deloitte

  • In April: Our Grant Innovation research report, co-published with Workiva and StreamLink

  • Throughout the year: DATA Act training programs

  • Data Transparency 2017, September 26, 2017

  • In November: The State of the Union of Open Data, 2017, a research paper co-published with Grant Thornton Public Sector

See y’all in 2017!