Balancing data security and open access remains a challenge, Ann Dunkin says

The Department of Energy is focused on making datasets more available for research while preserving sensitive information.
Ann Dunkin
Ann Dunkin speaks at the 8th Annual Lowering the Cost of Government with IT Summit in 2016. (Scoop News Group)

The Department of Energy is working to increase the availability of datasets held by the agency for research, while also protecting sensitive data.

Speaking Tuesday at the ACT-IAC 2021 Imagine Nation conference, department CIO Ann Dunkin outlined the dual challenge of fostering collaboration for research while also preserving national security.

“We have so much data across the Department of Energy (DOE), and the challenge is to figure out how to move data between our labs and share it while still maintaining that propriety sense our labs each have about their data,” Dunkin said at the event in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“How do we make that more shareable and useable by everybody, while segregating these different types of data?” she added. “We have everything from public information that’s open science, to nuclear security information, so managing that spectrum of data and making it useable across the organization is another piece.”


Dunkin noted that in some cases even just deciding which version of Microsoft Office 365 to use within a sub-department represented a challenge, because of the differing sensitivity of work being carried out by staff.

“Managing that where we have researchers in open labs doing work with people all around the world, including in countries that we might not consider our friends, to that nuclear security, and trying to manage that spectrum of security levels to allow people to work together,” said Dunkin.

Speaking at the conference, Dunkin also highlighted the agency’s work to enact the Biden administration’s agenda, including to address the climate crisis and equity and inclusion.

According to Dunkin, the DOE has undertaken analysis to establish how to run supercomputing processes in a way that draws more green energy from the power grid.

John Hewitt Jones

Written by John Hewitt Jones

John is the managing editor of FedScoop, and was previously a reporter at Institutional Investor in New York City. He has a master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics and his writing has appeared in The Scotsman and The Sunday Times of London newspapers.

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