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NOAA's Big Data Project
This official NOAA blog post describes its "big data project" involving Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, Microsoft Corp., and the Open Cloud Consortium. Also included (for the first time as far as I can tell) is a link to the wording of the research agreement (CRADA) that spells out some of the details governing the relationship between the government and the firms involved in this data-intensive experimental project. Here is some of the text from the blog post: "The CRADA contains NOAA’s standard research agreement language, which forms the skeleton of this framework, as well as defining the specific goals of the collaboration and the guidelines within which NOAA and the collaborators can innovate to achieve these goals. The CRADA is designed to allow the collaborators, their data alliances, and NOAA to focus on harvesting the public and private benefits locked up in NOAA’s data, without unnecessarily limiting or predefining the solution space. NOAA shares the excitement of the open government data community about what might emerge from this research project."
For more information from my own blog about the significance of this NOAA program see http://www.ddmcd.com/managing-technology/category/noaa .
Open Government Team. Ellen Herbst Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration, Head of Open Government Working Group open@doc.gov. Catrina Purvis Chief Privacy Officer and Director of Open Government. Joey Hutcherson Deputy Director, Office of Privacy and Open Government ...
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Ireland Publishes Government's Open Data Strategy
The two referenced documents in this press release describe a framework for the national government's open data publishing in Ireland. Also included are recommended standards for different data sets and a set of questions to ask when developing "data audits" of individual agency data resources. Not included, as far as I can tell, are any details concerning how the process will be managed or funded.
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Data Act Implementation

An interesting overview of the factors that are making implementation of the DATA Act different from past efforts to improve financial transparency across the Federal government is provided in this linked article from Federal News Radio.

In connection with this I heard David Lebryk of the U.S. Department of Treasury speak on Data Act implementation this morning at the Johns Hopkins/REI Systems Government Analytics Breakfast Forum in Washington DC.

I'll be writing up my thoughts about the presentation soon. Meanwhile here are a few points I starred while taking notes during Lebryk's presentation:

1. One of the major challenges for implementing the DATA Act's standardization and spending transparency requirements is that no resources were appropriated. Implementation had to proceed with existing resources and management structures.

2. Use of USASpending.gov to provede access to spending data really focuses continued attention on standards across all reporting agencies not just Treasury itself.

3. Usage of USASpending.gov by government employees at Federal and State level has been significant partly because of the ease of using the system as opposed to more complex or siloed legacy systems. [Author's note: this is a common finding among developer's of "open data" systems for government data. Even when  public access is a prime motivator for system development it is not at all unusual for government employees to themselves be heavy users.]

4. Lebryk provided an interesting view of "data quality." There are different views of how much emphasis to place on data quality with some promoting rapid publication of all data warts and all while others caution the need for quality control. [Again this is not an unusual issue given the wide variety of financial systems -- Lebryk mentioned the number 48 -- that fall under the purview of the DATA Act. These systems were not originally designed to talk to each other so reporting spending data to a common standard is taking some time.]

5. Lebryk emphasized the importance of "process" in implementing the DATA Act and mentioned the role of the dedicated PMO, the use of tools such as GitHub to gather feedback on how data should be tagged for easy ingestion into the "data broker" tool which serves as an interface between appropriately tagged agency data and the standardized reporting that the DATA Act is pursuing.

6. Treasury has developed a "DATA Act Playbook" to guide implementation at the agency level; a one page description of the Playbook is here: https://goo.gl/KSXeOy . [Author's note: The ability to provide such centralized guidance and support is one of the things that differentiates DATA Act implementation from more decentralized efforts at standardization that have been attempted in the past.]

7. One question from the audience concerned the relationship between performance data (which often is program specific and not directly financial in nature) and spending data (which may have little if any connection to the impacts a program is supposed to have). [Author's note: while this question was not explored at any length, it is my impression that one of the main  benefits of having Treasury work together with OMB on DATA Act implementation is coordination of data and metadata requirements for tracking expenditures in connection with program performance. 

I'll be working on a more complete blog post based on the above points in the next few days; if you would like me to email you when the post is ready please let me know via Twitter (@ddmcd) or email (ddmcd@outlook.com). 

- Dennis McDonald (http://www.ddmcd.com)
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Ranking of US Cities on Open Data
The city tops a list of national jurisdictions that lead the nation when it comes to open data.
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Updated information from the U.S. trade group Data Transparency Coalition on the Financial Transparency Act of 2015. Included is a requirement for a "...common identification code for regulated entities".
Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) held a press conference this afternoon to announce the introduction of the Financial Transparency Act of 2015 - the farthest-...
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Dennis D. McDonald originally shared to Managing Data:
 
This article is a thorough but overly optimistic view of the potential for businesses to engage in open data activities in which their data are made available for public access and exploitation.
The explosion of data has created the case for the free exchange of information – particularly in regard to public services. But a large opportunity also lies in creating solid business value
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Dump-DUNS caucus weighs in on the Data Act

As much as I would like to see an "open" standard emerge for identifiers, I would also like to see a dispassionate and objective assessment of the costs and benefits of making a transition.
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Alexander Howard
owner

open data  - 
(Image credit: r2hox/Flickr) Strong evidence on the long-term impact of open data initiatives is incredibly scarce. The lack of compelling proof is partly due to the relative novelty of the open government field, but also to the inherent difficulties in measuring good governance and social change. We know that much ...
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Alexander Howard
owner

open data  - 
 
Within the community of people who follow, advocate or cover open government and open data, reactions to yesterday's survey from the Pew Internet and Life Project's survey were decidedly mixed: http://e-pluribusunum.org/2015/04/22/half-empty-or-half-full-mixed-reactions-to-pew-research-on-open-data-and-open-government/ …as was coverage in the media. If I missed stories or blog posts in this digest, please let me know.
Yesterday, I wrote up 15 key insights from the Pew Internet and Life Project's new research on the American public's attitude towards open data and open government. If you missed it, what people th...
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Alexander Howard
owner

open data  - 
 
The agenda for the 2015 International Open Data Conference is open! http://opendatacon.org/program/detail/ …and I'm headed to Ottawa in May. The growth since 2010 is notable. 
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Opening Up Pharma Data
Apparently government agencies aren't the only ones being challenged to improve access to data.
A pair of public health advocacy organizations has filed a lawsuit against the FDA, claiming the agency failed to release clinical trial data for Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis C treatments on a timely basis.
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State of the DATA Act
Dan Chenok provides a solid distillation of where the US government stand on implementing the DATA Act. Overseen by OMB and the US Department of the Treasury, the Act's various activities are summarized including efforts by industry groups that are involved in making the US Government's financial data more accessible and transparent. I'm working on a post of my own discussing the DATA Act's implementation though I am focusing more on how implementation is being managed. Interestingly I have received some pushback from sources inside and outside the government who are reluctant to discuss some implementation details.
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Contributing to the  THIRD UNITED STATES OPEN GOVERNMENT NATIONAL ACTION PLAN

I just added the following text to the "Open Data" portion of the collaborative "hackpad" document (https://hackpad.com/How-to-participate-in-development-of-the-U.S.-Open-Government-National-Action-Plan-3.0-lYDkyBe1aCZ): "I would like to see, when an open data program is announced, information about how the program is to be managed and financed. My hypothesis is that many open data programs that involve or require participation across departmental or organizational boundaries struggle to move forward due to a lack of attention paid to efficient project and program management processes."
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Who Gets Credit for Open Data?
From the post: "The lack of easily accessible source and context information might eventually become a problem. Public programs ultimately have to depend on public funding. If the public doesn’t know the data they rely on are coming from public sources – which they pay for with their taxes — how can they be expected to make intelligent decisions about which programs to fund?"
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Dennis D. McDonald originally shared to Managing Data:
 
Managing Open Transportation Data at the U.S. Department of Transportation
This is my commentary on an excellent symposium on transportation data organized in Washington DC by Data Innovation DC.
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Dennis D. McDonald originally shared to Managing Data:
 
Landmark Open Data Legislation to be Introduced

I got this announcement of this from the Data Transparency Coalition. On May 20 at 2pm the "Financial Transparency Act of 2015" will be introduced. Originally known as the MADOFF Transparency Act, this act "...will require each of the nine main financial regulators to adopt standardized data fields and formats for the information they collect under the securities, commodities, and banking laws."

A few items are of special interest if you read the summary of the original version of the Act (http://www.datacoalition.org/darrell-issa-previews-madoff-transparency-act-at-financial-regulation-summit/):

(1) Treasure Department will promulgate data standards for the information that financial regulatory agencies collect from the entities they regulate.
(2) Standards will be adopted for information that financial regulatory agencies collect from regulated entities by the Federal Reserve System, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, National Credit Union Administration, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Securities and Exchange Commission, Treasury Department, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
(3) Agencies will be required to evolve from paper and pdf documents to searchable data made public.
(4) SEC will replace "...its existing XBRL with a data that is both human-readable and machinereadable."
(5) Last but not least, "...the Treasury Department to promulgate a common identifier for legal entities - codifying the existing effort to promote the universal use of the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), which has been ongoing since 2010, and which has so far been adopted by the CFTC and FDIC."

Note that the above are from a document published in March; what is announced on May 20 may differ. Nevertheless, pushing for standardization of such regulatory information will greatly enhance public access and transparency -- as long as effective governance and sufficient resources are made available to support the process. On the questions of governance and resources the March 24 document is unfortunately silent. 
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors will introduce the Financial Transparency Act of 2015 at a press conference tomorrow at 2 pm in room 2226 of the Rayburn House Office B...
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The author Eddie Copeland of the UK think tank Policy Exchange has a clearheaded assessment of opportunities lost in some municipal open data efforts -- and a suggestion for how to address the problem.
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Another commentary on the recent Pew Research Center study. (I'm quoted.)
Do Americans know or care about Open Data? The Turning Point
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NOAA’s Big Data Project Comes Into Focus
An interesting example of involvement by the private sector in expanding access to the vast quantities of NOAA data that are not yet available to the public.
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One of the really nice things about this portal (and I use the term "portal" in a very large sense) is that, not only are the data and developer resources extensive, but the contextual information provided (for example, look under the heading "Plan") is also extensive.  Also positive on the Plan pages: the names of page owners and responsible individuals are given. If you click on a page editor's name, for example, you can send an email! This act of providing contact information is an impressive user-friendly act and is something that can help dispel the image of "faceless bureaucrats" (if it works, of course!)
 
We're debuting our new Data Portal which will have featured datasets, and allow you to explore data by mission categories.
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