Federal Data Strategy Coming Out Tuesday, Say Officials

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The Federal Data Strategy’s first-year action plan draft, as well as finalized principles and practices, will be released tomorrow, Tuesday June 4, on Strategy.Data.gov, said Nancy Potok, chief statistician of the United States.

Speaking at the Stats for America conference hosted by the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics today, Potok, who is a co-lead on the cross-agency priority goal for data, noted that the Federal Data Strategy will consist of three main pieces.

“The Federal Data Strategy has an open data component, it has this confidential program evaluation, evidence-building component, and it has a toolkit component. We’re working on all three of those pieces,” she said.

Potok’s comments were echoed by Lucas Hitt, chief of the communications division at the Bureau of Economic Analysis and a member of the Federal Data Strategy team. Hitt also touched on some of the details and objectives in developing the guidance.

“The Federal Data Strategy builds on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act to really try to incentivize what we call conscious design,” said Hitt. “If at the beginning of a process, when [an agency] begins their program administration, if we also were thinking about the data … and we’re conscious about what the end result would be, then there are peers like the statistical agencies that can pick up from that point and truly optimize the value of that data without distracting the program from doing what it needs to do,” he added.

Potok also touched on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, noting that upcoming guidance on the law will address the cooperation and responsibilities among the various officials, including CIOs, chief data officers, chief statistical officers, and performance improvement officers. The guidance will also require program agencies to hand non-protected data over to statistical agencies upon request, and work to standardize the terms for inter-agency data sharing.

Looking towards the future, agencies will likely see closer collaboration on acquiring outside data as well.

“What we would like to do – and the Federal Data Strategy envisions this – is looking at data as a commodity, and what we’re finding is that agencies are going out and cutting their own deals with data suppliers, and they’re not getting a very good deal. Just like GSA has governmentwide contracts for other things we’re purchasing, data should probably be one of those things so we’re not buying the same data over and over again,” said Potok.

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