Data Transparency 2013

Data Transparency 2013

Last week, I attended the Data Transparency Coalition’s inaugural conference: Data Transparency 2013. Although the usual open government data suspects from nonprofits and the public sector attended, the conference was largely sponsored by and attended by private sector companies hoping to profit from government data.

The meat of Data Transparency 2013 was a set of breakout sessions where attendees could craft open data policy agendas for lawmakers. Because so much of NPP’s work depends on open, accurate, and localized federal spending data, I joined the Federal Spending group to discuss how the government should publish information about how it spends our tax dollars.

All of our suggestions (along with those from the other working groups) are compiled here; below are the things I consider most critical.

Public advisory committee

The federal government needs to hear feedback on how people are using federal spending data, and it needs to help people understand what, exactly, is (and isn’t) being published. In addition, someone needs to have authority to make sure the government complies with new and existing spending transparency laws (such as the DATA Act).

Support for cross-agency dialog of data processes and standards

Each agency has a different system for tracking its spending, and different parts of the government use different identifiers to label budget codes, awards, and programs. In fact, the definition of program changes depending who you ask. We need a common language before we can expect accurate and complete spending data.

The full download from Data Transparency 2013 is on the conference website.

You can help

As always, it was productive and enlightening to catch up with federal spending data colleagues, especially as we discussed a policy agenda. We'd love your support to help us get to future conferences and meetings. If you want to ensure that NPP staff can continue to have a place at the table in these important discussions, please consider making a donation.