DATA Act: Navigating the Pathway to Transparency
Take the DATA Act Challenge
by Lyn McGee
Top digital talent is being recruited from startups and top technology companies like Google, Intel, Skype, PayPal, and Oracle to help agencies get more sophisticated about how they gather, manage, and use data. Before any of that can happen, however, the data must be available in a standardized, consumable format, which is the driving focus of the DATA Act.
The value of the data will be how agencies use it to improve decision making and transform to become more efficient and effective. Focusing just on DATA Act compliance "making your data available" will leave your agency in the dust eighteen months from now when other agencies and outside agents implement new and innovative ways to create value from the information.
This means that gaining an understanding of the current state of your agency's data and your associated business processes is not enough. You must already be thinking about and using your DATA Act data. If you treat it like a compliance effort, you may get blind-sided by problems with the data that others discover when they use it after it is published on USAspending.gov. The other reason to get smart about your data is that unused data is probably ignored data. And that means there's a good chance that no one is paying attention to making sure the data is error free.
As you begin to get a handle on how you want to use your data, start thinking about a world where every agency is publishing the same data elements in a standard format that your systems now understand. Imagine:
- Using agency-wide data to identify duplicative programs in sub-components, bringing together the programs owners, identifying best practices, and creating a more efficient, effective cross-agency program.
- Comparing the rent payments in shared buildings or buildings owned by a common leasing company and discovering that other agencies pay less than you do.
- Reviewing grants and discovering that some portion of your grant recipients are also receiving grants from other agencies that they failed to report.
The possibilities are endless and will continue to expand as more data sets get standardized and become available. COE's infographic (inside) is intended to help you take a ride through the complex, busy landscape of DATA Act implementation. Use your imagination, examine the pitfalls, and begin today preparing yourself for success.
As the world becomes more data-decision centric, don't be lost in the shuffle.
For more information about the DATA Act and how to ensure that your agency is better prepared for taking on this transformation, please contact:
- Chuck Simpson - Principal Consultant
Chuck can be reached directly by phone at (240) 361-9240 or by e-mail at chuck.simpson[at]center4oe.com.
- Lyn McGee - Vice President, Client Solutions
Lyn can be reached directly by phone at (240) 361-9236 or by e-mail at lmcgee[at]center4oe.com.