This edition of Data Transparency News previews a Jan. 22 launch for Coalition advisor Joel Gurin's new book, Open Data Now, which will be headlined by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO); reports on the U.S. Senate's preparations to bring the DATA Act to a floor vote; and presents the Coalition's new mission statement and goals.

Data Transparency News

Rep. Polis speaks at Data Transparency 2013
Rep. Polis to Headline Open Data Now Book Launch

The Data Transparency Coalition will join FedScoop January 22 to launch Open Data Now, a new book from Joel Gurin. A former chair of the White House Smart Disclosure Task Force, Gurin now serves as a senior advisor to New York University's GovLab and sits on the Coalition's Board of Advisors. Rep. Jared Polis (D - CO), who spoke at the Coalition's Data Transparency 2013 conference in September, will be the featured government guest at the launch.

Open Data Now"The Open Data movement began with democratic goals, fueled by the idea that governments should make the data they collect available to the taxpayers who've paid to collect it," Gurin says in the book's first chapter. "But in addition to its social benefits, Open Data has created tremendous new business opportunities, which are the focus of this book."

Based on two years of research and dozens of interviews with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and data experts, Open Data Now is the first book to explain the open data revolution and how it will transform commerce, government, and society. The book also offers advice for tech start-ups seeking to take advantage of newly-available open data.

"If Open Data is free, how can anyone build a business on it?" asks Gurin in the book. "The answer is that Open Data is the starting point, not the end point, in deriving value from information. In general, governments have focused more on making the data itself available than on developing public-facing applications. The private sector can then add value by taking Open Data and building something great with it."

Data Innovation DayGurin's book offers advice to Congress as well as to the private sector. His top recommendation is that Congress pass the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) to standardize and publish federal spending as open data. Special guests at the book launch will include key staffers who serve the Congressional champions of the DATA Act in both houses of Congress, as well as executive branch officials who work on open data.

The book launch will be held from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, January 22 at Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, near the Capitol South metro station. Although tickets are free, capacity is limited. The event is part of Data Innovation Day, sponsored by the Center for Data Innovation.

Senate Prepares to Act on DATA

Following the 388-1 passage of the DATA Act through the U.S. House of Representatives in November, attention on the landmark open data legislation has shifted back to the Senate, where a separate version of the bill has moved out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The upper chamber's iteration of the bill may be amended ahead of an expected vote on the Senate floor in the early part of 2014.

No word has emerged regarding whether the Senate bill will ultimately retain a key accountability platform that was removed before clearing the Senate committee in early November. During a meeting following the Senate committee's action, Coalition members urged Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to find a way to retain the internal analysis infrastructure that was so instrumental in preventing waste and abuse in stimulus spending. The Coalition also argues that the accountability platform will provide an internal incentive for the government to police the quality of spending data.

The importance of ensuring the quality of open data was echoed at a Capitol Hill panel sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation's Advisory Committee on Transparency on December 16. Kaitlin Devine, a Senior Web Developer at the Sunlight Foundation, spoke about how widespread errors on the much-touted website render the service nearly useless for analytical purposes. Hudson Hollister, the Data Transparency Coalition's Executive Director, noted that the lack of common data standards has left Americans without access to even basic information. Different federal agencies do not even agree on how many federal agencies exist.

As the panel concluded, a bipartisan, bicameral quartet of DATA Act sponsors issued a robust call for Senate passage of the bill. Through a joint op-ed in The Hill, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) embraced the widespread calls for accountability that better data transparency can provide.

“No wonder public trust in government is at an all-time low – we spend taxpayer dollars, but we fail to take sufficient steps to report back how it was spent. But hopefully, those days are almost over,” said the four legislators.
Coalition Advisors Set Mission and Goals

On November 7, 2013, the Data Transparency Coalition's Board of Advisors held its first summit in Washington. The Coalition has now released the first results of that collaboration: its official mission statement and goals.

"The Data Transparency Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, machine-readable data. Data transparency strengthens democratic accountability, enhances government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation," reads the Coalition's mission statement.

The Board of Advisors includes leaders in technology, accounting, and consulting; former Rep. Geoff Davis and former Recovery Board chairman Earl Devaney; the CEOs of XBRL US, the Object Management Group and the Enterprise Data Management Council; and Open Data Now author Joel Gurin.

To pursue the overall goal of transforming government information from disconnected documents into standardized, machine-readable data, the Coalition will:
  •     Advocate legislative and regulatory mandates for data standardization and publication.
  •     Educate government leaders, private-sector innovators, and the public on the benefits of data transparency.
  •     Convene stakeholders to collaboratively design policies and build technology solutions that will drive the data transparency transformation.

With the Coalition's vision now clarified, the Board of Advisors will next guide Coalition staff to develop a full policy agenda. The first round of suggestions for the Coalition's policy agenda were crowd-sourced at the Data Transparency 2013 conference in September.
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Teradata Corporation

Level One Technologies
RR Donnelley
StreamLink Software

Trade Association
Object Management Group 

Individual and Nonprofit
Bernadette Hyland, 3 Round Stones
Alexander Falk, Altova
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
S. Swaminathan, IRIS Business Services
Maryland Association of CPAs
Greg Bateman, Microsoft
Joseph Kull, PwC
Mark Bolgiano, Unissant
TR Santhanakrishnan, DataTracks
Kris Radhakrishnan, DataTracks



Mike Atkin
Greg Bateman
Gila Bronner
Geoff Davis
Timothy Day
Earl Devaney
Eric Gillespie
Joel Gurin
Jim Harper
Don McCrory
Campbell Pryde
Mike Starr
Richard Soley

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, non-proprietary data standards.

Mark Your Calendars!


The Data Transparency Coalition will hold its second Data Transparency Breakfast, presented by PwC, on March 18. This time around, the topic will be data transparency in financial regulatory reporting. NextGov has a great roundup from last month's inaugural breakfast, which focused on data transparency in spending.

Stay Alert!

The Sunlight Foundation offers a tool called Scout, which allows users to receive alerts whenever there is legislative activity on bills like the DATA Act. You can sign up to stay abreast of both the Senate and House versions of the bill.
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