The Data Coalition urged the next White House to improve government’s use of data to address challenges like the coronavirus pandemic, as the group released 10 recommendations for the transition Tuesday.
Much of that hinges on the policy advocacy group’s first recommendation that the next administration refocus the 10-year Federal Data Strategy to support evidence-based decision making. Honing in on core priorities like pandemic response, economic recovery, social equity and financial oversight with the strategy’s 2021 Action Plan will offer agencies much-needed direction, according to the policy document.
The “common-sense steps” are intended to improve the quality of the information agencies collect, as well as access, to make data more actionable.
“Recognizing that good decision-making needs good data, the Data Coalition calls on the next administration to prioritize efforts to improve the quality, accessibility, and usability of our
country’s data,” reads the document. “In doing so, the administration will support ongoing efforts to transform society’s capabilities to generate insights that can be used to promote transparency and accountability of our government in parallel with efforts to devise strategies for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of government operations.”
Portions of the 2021 Action Plan should specifically direct agencies on implementing the 2019 OPEN Government Data Act’s data inventory and open data expectations and also ensure they can access the legal framework for new data-sharing authorities under the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, also signed into law in 2019.
The Data Coalition further recommends that $50 million in immediate implementation funding be provided to chief data officers to improve data management. The Office of Management and Budget did not respond to a request for comment on the recommendations.
Development of a national secure data service within the executive branch is “long overdue,” and financial regulatory agencies should implement common business identifiers and other data reporting standards in proposed legislation like the Financial Transparency Act, the coalition recommends.
Government should expand access to restricted income and earnings data that might improve the gross domestic product indicator or that is collected by the National Directory of New Hires, according to the document.
The coalition recommends that basic public health data standards should be adopted to improve the national system for compiling COVID-19 data; congressional budget requests should be made available as structured data in a centralized database; and ethical artificial intelligence principles should be adhered to.
A data science occupational series established by the Office of Personnel Management would strengthen the federal data workforce, especially if diversity is promoted for women and persons of color, the coalition recommends.
Implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act should also be improved, per the recommendations.