Critical Read

A to-do list for the 'data agency'

Shutterstock image: blue data streams.

What: A report by the Commerce Department and New York University GovLab, "Realizing the Potential of Open Government Data: A Roundtable with the U.S. Department of Commerce"

Why: It’s been nearly one year since the Commerce Department unveiled its "Open for Business" agenda, in which Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the department’s commitment to maximizing the value of its data.

Since then there have been a series of initiatives, including a move to hire a chief data officer, establishing a Data Advisory Council made up of 15 private sector leaders, and an expansion of existing open data programs.

In June, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the GovLab cohosted the first Open Data Roundtable with the Commerce Department, convening data providers and representatives from 25 private-sector and nonprofit organizations.

The report identified seven key areas for improvement; data users as customers, data access, quality, interoperability, collection and sharing, storage and dissemination, and discovery and findability.

The report put particular emphasis on the Patent and Trademark Office’s use and management of its data. It recommended that PTO move its PDF systems to an all-digital text-searchable format, and provide APIs so third parties can "build better interfaces for the existing legacy systems," the report said. 

The PTO is holding a roundtable in December to follow-up on the recommendations and work with the roundtable partners to improve its data strategy.

Verbatim: “Unleashing the full force of our data will be a source of innovation, a cornerstone of economic opportunity for business and entrepreneurs and a foundation of greater prosperity for millions of families.”

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a former staff writer for FCW.

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