First Data Transparency Breakfast of 2015 Explores the Jungle of Entity Identifiers
Last week, the Coalition kicked off its Data Transparency Breakfast series for 2015. The series highlights current challenges and opportunities of data transparency for an expanding audience of policymakers and industry leaders. Coalition member Booz Allen Hamilton sponsored and hosted our first breakfast event of the year at their downtown Washington, D.C offices. Despite icy roads, school closings, and a two-hour delay on federal government operations, we were joined by a full audience representing Congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector.
The morning’s discussion focused on one of the most important challenges of the open data transformation – the need for the government to adopt consistent and nonproprietary identification codes for private-sector entities. Our five panelists are leading the two largest efforts toward the adoption of consistent entity identifiers: one in federal spending and the other relating to federal financial regulation.
Why common IDs matter now
Under the DATA Act, the Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will, for the first time, have the legal mandate to require the adoption of consistent identifiers for all the grantees, contractors, and others who receive federal funds. By May 9, 2015, with the establishment of government-wide data standards for federal spending, Treasury and OMB must decide whether to announce the establishment of a pathway towards a new nonproprietary identifier for recipients, or stick with the DUNS Number, the identifier that is currently used for most grantees and contractors.
The DUNS Number is proprietary – owned by a contractor, Dun & Bradstreet. Anyone seeking to use federal spending information must pay Dun & Bradstreet for a license. In recent weeks, former Fiscal Assistant Secretary Dick Gregg, the Association of Government Accountants, and the tech industry – including the Coalition – have all been calling for Treasury and OMB to announce a movement away from proprietary identifiers and establish a pathway to use a nonproprietary identifier for grantees and contractors instead.
The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI)
Separately from the DATA Act effort, the Treasury Office of Financial Research (OFR) is seeking to persuade all the U.S. financial regulatory entities to adopt a consistent identifier for the financial firms and public companies that must report under the securities, commodities, and banking laws.
Irina Leonova, a financial data expert and Banking Specialist at Better Markets, and Matt Reed, Chief Counsel at the OFR, started the program off with perspectives on the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) and their participation in its global rollout.
Since 2010, the OFR has been working with financial regulators around the world to establish the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) – a global standard for entity identification. The LEI is nonproprietary and built for interoperability. And it’s domain-agnostic, which means it’s just as easily used by a securities regulator as by a contracting office.
According to Matt Reed, simply put, the value of the LEI hinges on its ability to answer three basic questions:
To read the full article, please go to the Data Transparency Coalition's new blog.
- Who is who? LEIs uniquely identify entities.
- Who owns whom? LEIs show parent-child corporate relationships.
- Who owns what? LEIs attached to products show who owns what.