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DorobekINSIDER: 4 Takeaways About #OpenData

Hey there. I’m Christopher Dorobek — the DorobekINSIDER — and welcome GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER… where we focus on six words: Helping government do its job better.

On GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER:

But up front: 4 takeaways about #OpenData

This week, we featured our monthly live program — GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER LIVE — where we discussed open data.

A caveat: I am a believe in open government and open data. As I noted in my introduction, in some ways, the open data movement seems something akin to enterprise architecture — people may believe it is important, but seems like it can become just another requirement. In this age of ‘do more with less,’ most people have to do a triage of requirements.

There are many altruistic reasons for open data… for rebuilding the relationship between government and citizens.

But it has been my sense that if open data is going to flourish, in the end, it needs to help government do its job better.

db_live_septemberThat was my general idea going into this week’s DorobekINSIDER LIVE. [Hear the full discussion here.]

Here are my take-aways from our conversation with our DorobekINSIDERs:

  1. The definition of open data is simple: Hollister said open data has two characteristics: it is a standard, and it is published.
  2. Open data is about helping government do its job better – but also about enabling data: Hollister told the story about when he was at the Securities and Exchange Commission and was urging SEC officials to move away from paper filings to a more efficient, more real time, more accurate, and less expensive way.
  3. Much of the open data innovation is going on at the state and local level: Gryth discusses case after case where local governments — and some states — and using open data. While there is work going on at the federal level — the DATA Act being the most obvious one — the size of the federal government makes it slower to evolve.
  4. The DATA Act standards will likely become the de facto standard: The DATA Act requires the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget to establish data standards across the whole landscape of federal spending. That standard will cover things like grants. Because of the breath of federal spending, it is likely to become a data standard for a large part of government spending, Hollister suggested. Those standards are due to be published in May 2015.

An aside and a note from somebody who has been an editor: The DATA Act is a term that drives most editors crazy — it is repetitive. The DATA Act is an acronym, of course. It stands for the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014. So DATA stands for Digital Accountability and Transparency Act — or, more explicitly, the “A” of DATA stands for Act. So when we say the DATA Act, we are essentially saying the  Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. It’s OK — we already say CAC card even though CAC stands for Common Access Card… yes, we are saying Common Access Card card… or ATM machine when ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine… yes, Automated Teller Machine machine. I understand it is a war that editors will lose, but… we will have to learn to deal.

The DorobekINSIDER #GovMustRead list:

  • Federal spending was lower this year than Paul Ryan originally asked for [Vox] Back in 2011, we spent a lot of time debating House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s vision for shrinking the deficit with spending cuts. Democrats thought he was doing too much axing and not enough taxing. Well, the Congressional Budget Office put out a report Wednesday on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget deficit and — tada! — it’s shrunk enormously. But what’s really amazing is that according to CBO figures, both taxes and spending for FY2014 are lower than what Paul Ryan proposed they should be back in his budget plan from 2012.
  • Obama Urges Sequestration Deal [Politico] Obama used a visit to the Pentagon to renew his call for Congress to free the military from what he called “draconian” budget strictures that would return next fiscal year under sequestration.
  • Uncle Sam strikes a deal with Zipcar, other rental companies [Fortune] The federal government is joining the sharing economy.  The U.S. General Services Administration announced today that it is launching a pilot program, contracting with four different car rental companies to provide cars for short-term use by employees who currently use one of the 200,000 cars owned by the GSA.  The four companies under contract are Enterprise CarShare, Hertz, Zipcar and Carpingo. This will be an option for federal government employees in Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, and Chicago.  The GSA will allow employees to rent these cars on an hourly basis for time frames not to exceed one day. The initial pilot program will last one year.
  • The club Julia Pierson is joining: Life after a Washington scandal [The Washington Post] It may be lonely at the top, but there’s no shortage of company among the fallen. In that respect, the society that former Secret Service director Julia Pierson just joined is as long as it is elite. Its members have faced the kind of firing squad that only Washington can bring. The long-faced testimony before Congress. The lambasting by cable news pundits. And of course, the eventual, reluctant resignation. “It’s painful to leave as the agency is reeling from a significant security breach,” Pierson told Bloomberg News last week. But, she added, it’s “the noble thing” to step down and “take the pressure off the organization.”

DorobekINSIDER water cooler fodder

Before we finish up… a few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

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