This edition of Data Transparency News reports on the Coalition's first-ever federal open data policy conference, the possibility of combining human-readability and machine-readability via iXBRL, and the U.S. Comptroller General's endorsement of the DATA Act.

Data Transparency News
Coalition announces first federal open data policy conference
Ronald Reagan Building
Data Transparency 2013 will take place on Tuesday, September 10th, in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

On September 10th, the Data Transparency Coalition will host Data Transparency 2013, the first public conference to explore the standardization and publication of the U.S. federal government's data - from regulatory filings to spending data to consumer disclosures. Through keynotes and panel discussions, Data Transparency 2013 will examine the impact of current open data policies. Building on last May's Capitol Hill DATA Demo Day, tech companies will exhibit their open-data-driven solutions in the conference's exhibition. And in afternoon breakout sessions, each focused on a cross-cutting policy area, participants will collaborate on an agenda for future change.

Speakers will include Congressional leaders of both parties, current and former Obama Administration officials, and leaders in financial regulation and federal management.

Data Transparency 2013 will provide the first opportunity for executive-branch and legislative-branch leaders to collaborate on initiatives with congruent goals that, until now, have developed separately. For example, President Obama's Open Data Policy and the bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), introduced in both houses of Congress, both seek to require consistent data standards and full publication for the federal government's spending data. The two initiatives developed independently, but both will be featured at Data Transparency 2013, forging a link between executive-branch and legislative branch open data proposals.

Data Transparency 2013 is supported by Partner Sponsors PwC and RR Donnelley, with additional sponsorship by Google, Esri, and others. Four key nonprofits are serving as Special Policy Partners: the Sunlight Foundation, the Object Management Group, and the ITIF Center for Data Innovation.

The Coalition announced Data Transparency 2013 on July 9th. Within a few business days, tickets had been reserved by staffers serving a wide variety of federal agencies and Congressional committees, including the General Services Administration, Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Federal Communications Commission, Securities and Exchance Commission, House Oversight Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, House Administration Committee, Senate Budget Committee, and many others.

Tickets - discounted for nonprofits and free of charge for government employees and students - are available at

Open data: human-friendly and machine-readable?

Will the transformation of regulatory filings from plain-text documents into open data - which means converting them to machine-readable formats like XBRL - make the filings unintelligible to anyone without an advanced data architecture degree?

In a guest post on the Coalition's blog, John Turner, one of the architects of the inline XBRL (iXBRL) standard, defuses that worry. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the United Kingdom's tax authority, has adopted the iXBRL standard for the more than 1.5 million financial statements submitted to it annually by UK businesses. Financial statements in iXBRL look just like the traditional documents they have replaced, so HMRC staff can use them to discuss questions with company leadership, just as they always have. But because iXBRL documents also contain unique electronic tags for every line item, HMRC can also use them to perform advanced data analysis.

"Where any kind of performance measurement data needs to be published or made available by government agencies," writes Turner, "the use of XBRL needs to be strongly considered ... Where there is a need to provide human-readable versions of the data as well, agencies can reduce cost and simplify the process by publishing their data on their websites, in human-readable web pages, with the data markup built right into the web page. To do this, they can use the iXBRL standard."
Dodaro testimony

U.S. comptroller general endorses DATA Act
Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office, endorsed the DATA Act in testimony before the House Oversight Committee on July 10. The DATA Act would transform the U.S. government's financial, assistance, and procurement information from inaccessible documents and disconnected databases into open data by requiring the Treasury Department to establish government-wide data standards and expanding the current transparency portal.

Dodaro told the Oversight Committee that government-wide data standards for spending would help the U.S. government to address its longstanding failure to properly account for interagency payments, which is one of the main barriers to producing auditable federal financial statements. Dodaro also cited the opportunity for new tech businesses to use newly-standardized spending data to deliver actionable intelligence to citizens and watchdogs, deploy Big Data analytics for federal clients, and automate compliance. These opportunities were explored in detail at the Oversight Committee's DATA Act Demonstration Day on May 16th. Dodaro also warned that only Congressional action can impose government-wide data standards for spending: "Without legislation ... it won't happen."

The Coalition has posted an exchange between Comptroller General Dodaro and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, with a link to video footage, on its blog.
Data Transparency Coalition


Teradata Corporation

Level One Technologies
RR Donnelley

Trade Association
Object Management Group 

Individual and Nonprofit
Bernadette Hyland, 3 Round Stones
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
Mark Bolgiano, Unissant


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 open data 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.
Ronald Reagan Building

Join us at Data Transparency 2013!

Data Transparency 2013 is the first federal open data policy conference. Join policymakers, industry leaders, and nonprofit advocates to examine the impact, explore the opportunity, and forge the agenda of open data.

Date: Tuesday, Sept. 10th
Location: Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20004
Tickets: Available now
Twitter: #datapolicy2013

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