Soon after returning from a year of active duty as an Army reserve officer, Lisa Schlosser left her job as CIO of the Housing and Urban Affairs Department to join EPA. Now, as Director of the Office of Information Collection, she finds herself at the center of the signature data-use initiative of the Obama administration.
In December EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency had decided that EPA would go ahead and regulate production of carbon dioxide by large industrial sources, having determined that CO2 is dangerous to human health. This was a politically controversial move. Congress may overrule EPA or change its plan; some lawmakers have said that EPA is overstepping its authority.
But in the meantime, a key step in the regulatory process is the collection of emissions information from facilities that produce 25,000 tons of CO2 annually. And so the agency has moved ahead on taking in the information from utilities and certain large manufacturers. (Here's an abstract of Corporate Parent and NAICS Code in the Greenhouse Gas Mandatory Reporting Rule Requirements.)
"We work with the Office of Air at EPA to define the best way to collect this information and disseminate it," Schlosser said. "We're working on the data schema and its multiple elements now." Data collection was to start last month, and the EPA expects the first reports to be due in March 2011. Most other pollutant reporting, much of which the EPA has been conducting for decades, actually consists of industry reports to the states, which in turn roll up their information to EPA. For CO2, the reporting will go directly to EPA. This promises to be a complex data collection program, in part because the agency is asking for corporate parent names of companies and sites that fall under the reporting rule.
Beyond the new CO2 data stream, Schlosser said, her office is looking for ways to "more effectively engage the agency on enterprise data management," in response to the Open Government Directive from the Office of Management and Budget. Like other agencies, EPA is adding its data sets to the Data.gov site. And, Schlosser said, it is looking at ways to separate legacy data from applications, with an eye towards making data reusable for applications built by anyone. "So there's more emphasis on the data itself," she said, including how it is architected and tagged. Numerous publications already use EPA data to create rankings of, for example, the 10 most polluted cities. There's an iPhone application that combines geographic position data with EPA information to let people find the nearest stimulus-funded cleanup project.
She pointed out that EPA has worked under right-to-know laws since 1986, so applications such as MyEnvironment, available on the agency's home page, already make data easily available to the public. The agency's National Environmental Information Exchange Network, used by the federal government, states, tribes and territories, provided the architecture for FederalReporting.gov. Schlosser worked with Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board, and Danny Werfel, the Controller at OMB, to devise the back end of FedReporting, which was built by Smartronix, the contractor for Recovery.gov.
While overseas, Schlosser was assigned to the Army's computer emergency response team, or CERT. She monitored LandWarNet, the Army's segment of the Global Information Grid, for possible cyber security breaches, traveling to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
"It was interesting to see the caliber of our warfighters today," she said. “I was inspired by the next generation -- their brains and how professionalized our military has become."