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This special edition of Data Transparency News summarizes the second annual DATA Act Demonstration Day, which took place on Capitol Hill on May 16, featuring 25 tech companies and two nonprofits and hosted by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, and House Oversight Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.
SPECIAL DATA DEMO DAY EDITION
Data Transparency News

Companies, Congress Preview DATA Act Impact: Analytics, Aggregations, Lower IT Costs

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings open the second annual DATA Demo Day, May 16, 2013, on Capitol Hill.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings open the DATA Demo Day on May 16, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo credit: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

As Proposal Re-Launches, Tech Leaders Demonstrate Value of Open Federal Spending Data

 
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, hosted 25 tech companies and two nonprofits on May 16 for the first Capitol Hill technology demonstration of its kind. The Congressional DATA Demo Day, an expanded version of last year's demonstration hosted by the Data Transparency Coalition, showcased the technologies that will illuminate and prevent waste and fraud, deliver better accountability to voters and watchdogs, automate grantees' and contractors' reporting tasks, and address the government's financial Big Data problem - if Congress chooses to open the federal government's spending data by passing the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act).

DATA Demo Day participants - from sector leaders like Google, Teradata, Oracle, and Informatica to start-ups like Poplicus and specialists like WebFilings and RR Donnelley - were unanimous in their enthusiasm for applying the principles of open government data to Washington's complex, fragmented system of grant and contract oversight, financial reporting, transaction databases, and budgetary documents. Two days before the event, Chairman Issa published a new discussion draft of the DATA Act, which would require the Department of the Treasury to establish and enforce government-wide data standards for federal spending and publish complete and detailed data on the USASpending.gov portal. Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings, together with chief Senate sponsor Sen. Mark Warner and Republican co-sponsor Sen. Rob Portman, are expected to pursue the committee consideration and passage of this new version in coming weeks.

Both public interest and self-interest drive the tech industry's support for opening the federal government's spending data. First, citizens deserve accurate, complete, searchable access to information on how their tax money is spent; in the absence of government-wide data standards, USASpending.gov fails on all three counts. Second, the DATA Act would create new business opportunities throughout the industry. With full standardization and publication under the DATA Act, open federal spending data:

  • Would enable analytics to help federal agencies stop waste and fraud. Teradata showcased the enterprise data warehouse it deployed for the state of Michigan, which has already adopted statewide data standards for recipients of state funds. Teradata's enterprise data warehouse saves Michigan $1 million per day through fraud detection. Elder Research's fraud detection platform, RADR, discerns indicators of potential fraud in contract data and could be deployed across the federal government if data standards were adopted under the DATA Act. EMC, IBM, Oracle, and Oversight Systems also showed fraud detection technologies that could better assist agencies, inspectors general, and Congressional authorities under the DATA Act.
  • Would help government leaders make informed choices through descriptive aggregations and metrics. IPHIX showed how data standards could have allowed the Department of Energy to discern the risk of the now-infamous Solyndra loan guarantee in advance. Esri and Waze demonstrated that data standards could allow policymakers to visualize the geographic impact of government spending. Microsoft and Unissant explained that data standards have allowed the Securities and Exchange Commission to closely track financial filings by public companies and could create similar visibility for grantees' and contractors' federal submissions. Accenture could integrate spending data with social media tracking, Spikes Cavell could create spend management systems for agencies, and Tableau could produce interactive visualizations if spending data were standardized under the DATA Act.
  • Would support business intelligence for the private sector. Poplicus showcased its Govini platform, which visualizes government procurement data and which will enhance its offerings once the DATA Act is implemented.
  • Would reduce compliance costs for grantees and contractors through automation. Level One Technologies, WebFilings, and RR Donnelley all showcased products that can eliminate manual steps from financial reporting once the data formats for the reporting requirements are standardized.
  • Would reduce staging and assembly costs for current IT systems and projects. Google, Cambridge Semantics, and Informatica presented their tools for assembling and transforming government data to support program needs - tools whose effectiveness would multiply with the adoption of spending data standards under the DATA Act.
  • Would enable better transparency solutions. Smartronix helped the Recovery Board to develop Recovery.gov, which provided complete, accurate, searchable, detailed information on stimulus spending, enabled by the data standards that the Recovery Board deployed within the fiscal stimulus. The DATA Act would allow USASpending.gov to deliver comparable completeness, accuracy, utility, and detail. Socrata and 3 Round Stones showed their solutions for checkbook-level transparency and linked data, respectively.
  • Could be implemented by supplementing, not replacing, existing systems for financial management, procurement, or assistance. Adaptive's metadata manager works within an enterprise's existing data systems to impose standards.
The Data Transparency Coalition has published summaries of the DATA Demo Day participants' presentations.

 
 
Data Transparency Coalition


Members

Executive
Teradata Corporation

Regular
Adaptive
IPHIX
Level One Technologies
RR Donnelley
Smartronix
WebFilings

Trade Association
Object Management Group 
XBRL US

Individual and Nonprofit
Anthony Hodson, Accenture
Ryan Alfred, BrightScope
Oscar Hackett, BrightScope
Marty Loughlin, Cambridge Semantics
Suzanne Morsfield, Columbia Business School
Isaiah Goodall, Elder Research
Anne Bini, Invoke
Mark Klinski
Maryland Association of CPAs
Joseph Kull, PwC
StockSmart

Advisors

Mike Atkin
Greg Bateman
Gila Bronner
Timothy Day
Earl Devaney
Eric Gillespie
Jim Harper
Beth Noveck
Campbell Pryde

About Us

The Data Transparency Coalition is the only trade association that advocates data reform for the U.S. federal government. The Coalition brings together companies, nonprofit organizations, and individuals to support policies that require federal agencies to publish their data online, using machine-readable, nonproprietary data standards.
Transparency Happy Hour at Bullfeathers

This Week

Raise a glass to government transparency. All are welcome at the Sunlight Foundation's Transparency Happy Hour, co-hosted by the Data Transparency Coalition and other pro-transparency groups.

When: Wednesday, May 22, at 5:30 pm

Where: Bullfeathers, 410 First Street SE, on Capitol Hill in Washington

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