White House tech office planning mega datapalooza


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The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is laying the groundwork to host a governmentwide open data exposition slated for “a year from now,” a policy advisor to the U.S. chief technology officer announced Friday.

The technology office envisions bringing together agencies, industry and developers “in a big-tent way” to showcase how openly accessible government data and APIs are being used across all industry sectors and federal agencies in new and valuable ways, said Kristen Honey, policy advisor at OSTP.

Honey also announced that the administration is developing “national open data guidelines” aimed at helping agencies craft their data sets more effectively for users. The guidelines are being developed with the help of the Center for Open Data Enterprise, which has held a series of roundtables with federal agencies and their data customers to better understand how agency data could be used more productively.

The cross-government data event is part of a broader set of more than 40 new initiatives, released by the administration Oct. 27, in its third Open Government National Action Plan for the U.S. The plan outlines steps to advance open and citizen-centered government. Its release coincided with the Open Government Partnership Summit, where 66 countries gathered in Mexico City this week to explore ways to enhance public access to information.

The proposed event builds on the Health Datapalooza model launched five years ago by Todd Park, then Department of Health and Human Services CTO, who saw a need to unlock and showcase the value of agency data in the hands of entrepreneurs and innovative developers outside of government. The model later became a signature platform for the administration when Park was recruited by the White House to be U.S. CTO in 2012 and led to a series of datapalooza events focused on government data in various communities of interest, including health, climate, energy and public safety.

“We are doubling down on open data,” said Honey, who works for Park’s successor, Megan Smith. The idea now, she said, is to bring many of the best ideas and applications from all of those fields together in a single event.

Honey made the announcement during the third annual Safety Datapalooza, held in Alexandria, Va., Friday. The event brought together officials from the Department of Transportation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Drug Administration and other government agencies to highlight how openly available agency data sets are improving public safety. The event was led by Department of Transportation Chief Data Officer Dan Morgan and featured more than two dozen presenters.

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