White House hears from public on data strategy

big data analysis 

More than 50 experts gathered at the Commerce Department on Monday to discuss the path forward to implement the recently released White House data strategy.

The event, convened by the Office of Management and Budget and the Data Coalition, included discussion of how the process will work and how open that process will be.

The data strategy action plan outlined 16 steps -- some agency-specific, others governmentwide -- to "establish a firm basis of tools, processes, and capacities to leverage data as a strategic asset." The forum was aimed at providing public input to the plan.

The White House set aggressive deadlines for the federal government and federal agencies, including establishing an OMB Data Council by November, piloting a governmentwide data catalog by May 2020 and identifying priority datasets at each agency by August 2020.

It also addressed goals such as improving geospatial and financial-management data standards as well as identifying opportunities to increase data skills within the federal workforce.

The creation of a data council at OMB -- included in the draft plan -- "is long overdue," said Charles Rothwell, a former director of the National Center for Health Statistics. The plan calls for the OMB council to be created within three months, with agencies launching their own offices in a month.

"To me, that timing is backwards. The OMB Data Council should serve as a model for department-level" agencies, Rothwell said.

Breaking up data that has accumulated in countless agency silos over the decades, said is an admirable goal, said Clifton Roberts, Intel's global director of cloud and data policy. However, Roberts advised that storing all that siloed data in a single place is impractical and possibly a security risk.

Roberts suggested the federal government and private industry develop a "playbook" to create a secure, federated machine learning-based model for dealing with siloed data.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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