White House Hosts Roundtable on Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset

  Margaret Weichert welcomes Roundtable participants (Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget)

Margaret Weichert welcomes Roundtable participants (Executive Office of the President Office of Management and Budget)

This article is cross-posted from the White House Blog

 

Today the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Center for Open Data Enterprise co-hosted a roundtable on Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset, a new Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). This CAP goal is co-led by leaders at OMB, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration.

The event brought together Federal and industry data experts to begin crafting a strategy to unlock Federal data in ways that will improve delivery of government services, inform government policy, create value and jobs in the U.S. economy, and make government more effective and efficient overall.

OMB’s Deputy Director of Management, Margaret Weichert, opened the event with keynote comments, which highlighted the importance of Federal data to grow the economy and increase government effectiveness and transparency. She stressed the importance of balancing growth objectives with maintaining data security and preserving privacy and confidentiality.

Part of this work, she said, will involve connecting Federal data and leveraging industry expertise to use information in ways that add value for businesses and provide quality services for the American people. “Doing this well requires collaboration across government, industry, and academia to deliver better results,” Weichert noted. “Your ideas will help us drive real change and transform how the Federal government leverages data to enhance mission delivery and service while providing a foundation for economic growth.”

We know that Federal data contain significant potential to foster economic growth, fuel innovation, and promote civic engagement. During the roundtable discussions, White House leaders emphasized the need to see the Nation’s data as a strategic asset and to find ways to leverage the data to its full potential.

The Federal data strategy is intended to strengthen the government’s ability to provide and use data for mission accountability and to enable businesses to grow the American economy. Key to successfully accomplishing these goals is assuring that privacy and confidentiality are protected, even as data are connected to create new insights. In addition, maintaining high quality data at the Federal level is essential.

Participants demonstrated how protecting privacy and confidentiality was possible while connecting seemingly unrelated datasets to reveal new insights. Some examples include:

  • Combining USDA nutrition data with proprietary store scanner records answers many policy questions about nutrition and the healthfulness of Americans’ dietary behaviors.
  • Integrating information about job training program participants with wage and earnings data gives us valuable information about the return on the Federal investment in helping Americans gain skills and find jobs.
  • Creating a process for integrating data across siloes shifts how we address complex problems, such as the opioid crisis, in a fundamental way.

The Administration is committed to delivering a comprehensive Federal Data Strategy with both a short-term and long-term vision for implementation. Specific principles, practices, and actions steps will be developed over the coming year through an inclusive process of consulting experts and thought-leaders from across the government, industry, non-profit, and research sectors. Today’s roundtable is just the first step of many upcoming opportunities to draw on the extensive expertise of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

We are excited to have critical Agency leadership in these efforts from Karen Dunn Kelley, Acting Deputy Secretary and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Department of Commerce and Pradeep Belur, Chief of Staff at the Small Business Administration.

Events like this roundtable create a new paradigm for how government, industry, and academics collaborate. By working together, we can unlock new opportunities, identify necessary policy changes, and discover new industry solutions that build on current government strengths. We will prioritize an agenda for learning and development to guide our collaboration for years to come. These challenges may be complex, but they are best solved together.

To allow modern platforms and technology enablers to unlock the full potential of Federal data, the Administration has already taken meaningful steps to push IT modernization to the forefront. Last month, OMB unveiled the PMA, a deep-seated strategy to modernize the government, which contains an IT modernization component in addition to the data component. Today’s roundtable marks a significant milestone, indicating progress against all three pillars of the PMA.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a report on the learnings and next steps from today’s discussion. To find out more about the Cross Agency Priority Goal on Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset, visit www.performance.gov.

Suzette Kent is the Federal Chief Information Officer, Nancy Potok is the Chief Statistician of the U.S., and Jack Wilmer is a Principal Assistant Director at OSTP.

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