The final Federal Data Strategy Action Plan is expected to be released this November, giving agencies a better roadmap on how to incorporate data as a strategic asset, Deputy Commerce Secretary Karen Dunn Kelley said Tuesday.
“That will help create a framework of consistency across the government,” she said at Imagine Nation ELC 2019 in Philadelphia. “Because these practices are aspirational, successfully carrying them out will involve incremental steps. It’s not a Big Bang theory.”
The first “draft action plan” was published in June, outlining 16 steps that agencies were supposed to take to achieve the President’s Management Agenda cross-agency priority goal of leveraging data as a strategic asset.
In January, Congress also passed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, requiring that agencies modernize their data management practices, and encouraging the use of data to inform policy decisions.
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Big Data Can Underpin Solid Decision-Making
“We have to ensure we are using the best information available for data-driven decisions and evidence-based policy,” Kelley said. “That law was intended to increase the value of the government’s data.”
The Commerce Department, which Kelley said is the largest government collector and disseminator of data, has already established a statistical officer, an interim chief data officer and an interim evaluation officer to coordinate data activities and create new data inventories within the agency.
Commerce collects 20 terabytes of data every day, or about 10 million phone books’ worth, Kelley said. “For the young people in the room, those were those big things you used to sit on.”
Among the department’s component agencies: the National Weather Service, which issued 1.5 million forecasts and 50,000 warnings based on 7.6 million observations last year, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which calculates the gross domestic product.
Census Data Will Arrive Via New Technology
The department also houses the Census Bureau, which next year will begin collecting information on all 330 million U.S. residents with new technology, including putting the census forms online and letting census workers who interview those who don’t reply online to “take data on handheld devices rather than with paper and pen,” Kelley said.
But Commerce isn’t alone in producing data and using it to underpin policy per the new law, she said. “Agencies across the executive branch that produce and use data are working to meet these same requirements. In one of the key values of this law, it says that all agencies are moving forward together in this pursuit.
“We’re confident that the federal data strategy is not only comprehensive but, equally as important, it reflects and addresses the needs of our stakeholders and our stakeholder groups,” she said.
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