The past three presidential administrations have shown a strong commitment to using Federal open data to achieve national priorities. Most recently, President Biden has signed data-driven executive orders on climate change, racial equity, economic recovery and COVID-19. All these efforts have come in the context of implementing the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act), which directs Federal agencies to make their data more open, accessible, and usable. The Evidence Act recognizes that data is both a strategic asset and part of infrastructure: It’s critical to public and private efforts to improve healthcare, the environment, education, agriculture and other sectors.
While CODE applauds this progress, we believe more can be done to ensure that Federal data programs meet national needs and advance the public good. In our view, the only way to ensure that Federal data serves the public is to involve the public directly in shaping the collection, management, and use of that data.
In February 2021, we submitted public comments to a Federal advisory committee calling for the Office of Management and Budget to establish a new Office of Public Data Engagement (OPDE). We’re proposing that this new Office would “ensure that the Federal government prioritizes the collection, management, and publication of its diverse data resources to directly meet public needs, as determined by ongoing engagement with the organizations, businesses, and state and local governments that use Federal datasets.”
After submitting these comments, CODE sent an open letter to OMB with more than two dozen organizations and individuals signed on to endorse the goals we outlined for the OPDE – whether they are achieved through this new office or other means. We’ve now made the case for increased public engagement in an opinion piece in The Hill and are continuing to gain support for our proposals.
At the same time, CODE’s work is showing how existing Federal “open” policies on data, software, and data management can be improved and better aligned. In April 2021 the IBM Center for the Business of Government published our report, “Aligning Open Data, Open Source, and Hybrid Cloud Adoption in Government.” In this report we analyzed four governmentwide strategic initiatives – the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, the Federal Data Strategy, the Evidence Act, and the Federal Source Code Policy – and made recommendations for how they can be better coordinated and implemented. The report has reached Federal policymakers and the public through the IBM Center’s network, this article in FedScoop, and a one-hour feature on Federal News Network. We’re also continuing to see interest in our previous IBM Center report, “Agile Problem Solving in Government: A Case Study of The Opportunity Project.”
CODE welcomes collaboration with organizations and individuals who share our goals in improving the Federal data ecosystem. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.