White House tech office to co-host open data roundtables

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The White House Office of Science Technology Policy has unveiled plans to co-host four open data roundtables, with the first to get underway Thursday, as part of a continuing push to advance the use of federal data.

The sessions are expected to bring together a limited number of technical, policy and legal experts from federal agencies, academia and the private sector — and collect input from the public — as part of an effort to accelerate the use of government open data sets, according to an OSTP briefing.

The roundtables, which will be co-hosted and conducted by the Center for Open Data Enterprise, which conducted similar roundtables last year, will focus on four challenges confronting the open data community:

  • Protecting Privacy – How can the community open granular information while protecting privacy? (Scheduled March 24)
  • Improving Data Quality – What are the most efficient and scalable ways to improve data quality? (Scheduled April 27)
  • Applying Research Data – How can the community best share and apply government-funded research data? (Scheduled May 25)
  • Leveraging the Private Sector – How can the community leverage private-sector expertise and abilities? (Scheduled June 15)

The federal government currently makes more than 194,000 open, machine-readable data sets available on its Data.gov portal. The freely-available data is seen as a powerful national resource that can be put to work in a variety of industries and as a way to help citizens find better value for education, housing and health, Kristen Honey, a White House OSTP policy advisor wrote in a recent blog.

Organizers and White House OSTP officials hope to turn the findings from these sessions into a set of guidelines that can be used by agencies, and possibly the next administration, to foster wider public and commercial use of government data.

Agencies could use the help. Though federal agencies have made some headway making more government data publicly available, efforts to continue inventorying enterprise data, mandated by the administration’s Open Data Policy, have stalled in recent months for various reasons, according to administration officials, speaking under condition that they not be identified.

The Obama administration continues to put a lot of stock in the potential for open data to fuel innovation nationally, most recently with President Obama’s appearance at South by Southwest Interactive this month. He used the national gathering to encourage technology enthusiasts to play a larger role helping the government make use of its data resources.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration unveiled a new open data portal, called The Opportunity Project, that provides tools from various federal and local government agencies to help communities finds ways to improve resident’s lives, using open government data.

More details about the roundtables can be found on Data.gov.

This article was updated March 24, to reflect a change in scheduled dates for the May roundtable.

Contact the writer on this story via email at wyatt.kash@fedscoop.com, or follow him on Twitter at @WyattKash. Subscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Center for Open Data Enterprise, data analytics, Government IT News, open data, Tech, White House