Transparency and access to information are key tenets of democratic governments. Today, federal agencies accomplish those goals via the cloud. However, before they publish open data in the cloud, IT leaders should contemplate these steps:
- Think about governance: As with any cloud initiative, the State Department puts all data through a stringent review process before publishing. “Without strong governance, you’ll end up not knowing what is out there, the sensitivity of the data and who has access,” says Karen Mummaw, the agency’s deputy CIO.
- Work back from security: When choosing a platform, security must come first, says Brandon Pustejovsky, chief data officer for USAID. Insist on Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program or comparable certification. “If you focus on maximizing your user experience, but then find you can’t meet federal security requirements, then you’re stuck,” he says.
- Engage the user community: Don’t just issue guidance to partners and users on how to share data sets; ask for constructive feedback, says Pustejovsky. Such a request can improve technologies, interfaces and policies moving forward.
- Change your perspective: What’s good for the private sector and the general public is also good for agencies, says Joshua New, policy analyst for the Center for Data Innovation. Publishing data sets in open formats in easy-to-access locations can lead to efficiencies, save money and shrink redundancies, he says.
- Promote your data: No one will understand the value of your data unless you tell them, says Ed Kearns, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s chief data officer. Have data experts explain to cloud providers how the data sets should and should not be used. When data sets are easy to understand, the information is used more.
For more on the technology that helps agencies enhance their open data initiatives, check out, “How the Cloud Improves Transparency at the State Department, USAID and NOAA.”