At Data Transparency 2017, a Tour of Better Data in Government, Compliance, and the Private Sector

Open data is taking over. New technologies are taking hold.

Across government, compliance, and the private sector, there’s a new eagerness to standardize previously-unruly data sets, analyze them for game-changing insights, and share them more widely.

At Data Transparency 2017 in Washington on Tuesday, September 26th, we’ll lead you on a tour through all these changes. You’ll learn how better data is making our government more governable, cutting the chaos and cost of compliance, and providing new value in the private sector.

It all starts with two basic steps: first, standardize data, using common fields and formats to make it instantly searchable. Second, publish and share it, removing restrictions so that more users can access and analyze. We’re seeing these two basic steps playing out within the U.S. government, across compliance from Colorado to Canberra, and at prominent private-sector companies.

Once a government agency, a compliance system, or a company undertakes these two steps, a whole wealth of value is created. Management decisions are better informed, costs are cut, and new business models begin. New ways of exchanging information - most excitingly, blockchains - become possible.

Data Transparency 2017 will show you how better data, once standardized and published, can change your organization. (If you’re already convinced, registration is open here.)

Here’s a preview.


In Government: Open Data Delivers Better Management

Our Government Data Track is the best place to explore how data standards are knitting the world’s largest organization - the U.S. federal government - together, so that it can be managed to better serve its people.

The DATA Act became law in 2014, requiring the entire federal government to standardize its spending information, and publish it as a single data set - fulfilling a dream first voiced by Thomas Jefferson over two centuries ago.

The DATA Act’s first fruits arrived this spring, when every federal agency began reporting $3.8 trillion worth of spending in one standardized data format.

What does this mean? The federal government is now able to manage itself as a single entity, because spending information is collected together in “one consolidated mass,” the way Jefferson wanted it.

On our stage at Data Transparency 2017, the Treasury Department will present a live demonstration of the analytical use cases of this new, consolidated publically-available data set.

The DATA Act is not the only effort to bring government data together through data standards. Our panel discussion on Modernizing Government Management will introduce you to some of the others: the National Information Exchange Model, the Federal Integrated Business Framework, and the White House’s new push for Technology Business Management. Our opening keynote speaker, former United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, will explain how technological change can deliver a better government.


In Compliance: Open Data Cuts Costs

In the United States, regulatory compliance is a sprawling, complicated, unwieldy, and very expensive thing.

Open data changes that. By adopting a standardized data structure for the fields and formats of required reports, governments can cut the complexity and cost of compliance - without sacrificing needed transparency.

Australia is our best model for modernizing compliance through open data. Australia’s Standard Business Reporting program created a single, standardized data structure for the reports that Australian companies must submit to government regulators. Because many different kinds of reports - tax, securities, workforce, statistics, and more - can be submitted using the very same data format, software providers have been able to build tools that allow businesses to compile and report their compliance information automatically.

This video shows how.

At Data Transparency 2017, our international keynote speaker, Australian Deputy Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor MP, will explain how Australia’s decision to modernize compliance through open data is saving over $1 billion annually in reduced regulatory costs for Australian companies. And you’ll see a live demonstration on our stage of how Standard Business Reporting works, presented by former Australian Taxation Office assistant commissioner John McAlister.

We don’t have to move all the way to Standard Business Reporting to make compliance cheaper. Just adopting a common identification code for companies, across all the different regulatory agencies, would be a great start.

U.S. regulatory agencies use a hodgepodge of identification codes to identify the companies that they regulate. The U.S. government’s failure to settle on a single code across different regulatory agencies costs all sorts of unnecessary time and money. As the Data Foundation and LexisNexis explain in our just-released research report, Who is Who and What is What, it’s time to replace the hodgepodge with one identification code to organize them all: the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI).

At Data Transparency 2017, you’ll meet Matt Reed, chair of the international Regulatory Oversight Council, which is working to get the LEI adopted across all U.S. regulatory agencies.

Regulatory reporting is not the only kind of compliance that can be transformed through open data. The same is true for grant reporting, too.

Last month, the White House published a study recommending a “comprehensive [data] taxonomy” for U.S. federal grant reporting. To save grantees - state agencies, local and tribal governments, nonprofits - from duplicative compliance, a standardized data structure can allow software to automatically compile the reports they must submit to grantor agencies.

At Data Transparency 2017, you’ll hear from the authors of the study - the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services - who will lay out their vision for modernized federal grant reporting and reduced compliance costs.


In the Private Sector: New Business Models

The benefits of standardized data aren’t limited to government or compliance.

Across the private sector, leading companies are discovering that by adopting standardized frameworks to organize their data, and by sharing it more widely - sometimes fully public - they can create new value. At Data Transparency 2017, you’ll learn how Yelp, Waze, OpenCorporates, Cognosante, and Inmar are all choosing to voluntarily publish operational data, and you’ll explore their reasons for doing so.

Such decisions to share operational data can buttress existing business models. They can also create entirely new ones.

Our final panel will explore how companies like Kabbage have built businesses on data sharing - commercial lending, investment, and business intelligence - platforms that use their customers’ voluntarily-shared data to better allocate resources.


The Missing Ingredient for Blockchain Expansion

Blockchains - distributed electronic ledgers jointly maintained by their users, providing transparency and shared certainty - have garnered millions of investment dollars and pageviews in recent years.

And yet, despite all the investment and attention, there are no completed commercial applications of blockchains, outside cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum.

Blockchains are proposed and piloted in financial services, real estate, international development, and all over the U.S. federal government. But none of these proposals or pilots has become the official mode of information exchange..

Why is blockchain technology so apparently promising, and yet so apparently difficult to implement? In government and compliance, at least, data standards are the missing ingredient.

Without agreement on standardized data structures for federal spending, regulatory reports, and other official records, no blockchain can be constructed. There is nothing to start with.

At Data Transparency 2017, we will face this challenge head-on. Our speakers will consider how standardized data schemas can form the foundation for blockchain-based information exchange across our government and economy.


Join Us!

Data Transparency 2017 starts with a Welcome Reception for speakers, sponsors, and Data Coalition members on Monday, September 25th, at 5:30 pm.

The main event kicks off at the Renaissance Washington Hotel on Tuesday, September 26th, at 8:30 am.

Registration - complimentary for all public-sector attendees - is open here.

See you in two weeks!