New White Paper Emphasizes the Need for Leadership and Resources to Ensure Open Data Law’s Success

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Data Foundation and Deloitte released a joint white paper titled “Future of Open Data: Maximizing the Impact of the OPEN Government Data Act”. The paper examines the challenges likely to arise during implementation of the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act and strategies to mitigate them. 

Signed into law on January 14, 2019, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act), which contains the OPEN Government Data Act, modernizes data policies across federal agencies. While the OPEN Government Data Act promises to transform how agencies report, publish, and use their information, challenges will arise as the law is implemented. Drawing on interviews with current agency chief data officers (CDOs), whose experience is informed by the implementation of other federal data laws, this white paper outlines strategies and practices that agencies can adopt to support the OPEN Government Data Act’s goals.

Interviewees include: 

  • Michael Conlin, CDO, Department of Defense

  • Dr. Edward Kearns, CDO, Department of Commerce

  • Mona Siddiqui, CDO, Department of Health and Human Services

Report Highlights:

  • Insights from current chief data officers. The white paper highlights the challenges, risks, and opportunities encountered by current federal agency CDOs. They shared their perspectives about OPEN Act implementation in the context of the broader Evidence Act, as well as ongoing efforts like the Federal Data Strategy.

  • Chief data officers need to be empowered. CDOs need a seat at the leadership table. Political and career leaders in agencies must view the CDOs as a key participant of the agency senior governance process, trust the individuals to help fulfill the agency's mission, and provide appropriate support and authority and resources to fully executive their prescribed duties.

  • Avoid creating another compliance exercise. Whether it’s recognizing the benefits of better data management and data sharing within and across agencies and with the public and private sector or better training the federal workforce to fit the increasing importance of data and evidence, a lot of work must be done to maximize the OPEN Act’s benefits. In order to prevent the law from becoming another compliance exercise for agencies, resources and capabilities must be provided to ensure the law’s success.

“The OPEN Government Data Act lays out a vision for well-managed, high quality, accessible, and useful government data,” said Nick Hart, Interim President, Data Foundation. “Senior officials in agencies must have the resources and authority to facilitate new, effective data governance practices. Our white paper with Deloitte highlights that successful implementation of the OPEN Government Data Act hinges on the empowerment and support of these agency data leaders as well as government-wide collaboration on the law’s implementation.”

“Our government has some of the largest and most valuable stores of data in the world,” said David Mader, Chief Strategy Officer, Civilian Sector, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The OPEN Government Data Act will transform the way these data are accessed, shared, and used, but only if agencies work together to support the law’s implementation. As a proponent of improving service delivery and social impact through enhanced open data strategies, Deloitte is pleased to bring our public, private and global perspectives to inform federal data leaders and help build a data-centric federal workforce through this white paper.”

Read the full white paper here.

About The Data Foundation:

The Data Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to define an open future for our data, for a better government and society. The Data Foundation provides research, analysis, education, and programming that aims to improve the country’s data policies. As the country’s leading data policy think tank, the Data Foundation supports informed dialogue and thought leadership on emerging strategies and applications for accessing, using, and applying data in ways that are useful for decision-making.

About Deloitte: 

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