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How accessibility of data can impact mission deliverables

The U.S. government has issued several initiatives to make government data more widely accessible and helpful — including the Federal Data Strategy, the Evidence Act, and the Open Government Data Act, among others.

For chief federal information, data and technology officials, that has meant concerted efforts to implement governance policies to transform data into more valuable products for their constituents and stakeholders.

Laura Biven, data science technical lead in the Office of Data Science Strategy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and John Auerbach, senior vice president for public health at ICF, joined FedScoop for a discussion on best practices in capturing greater intelligence from data.

Biven highlights how data-rich science biomedical research is and says, “many of the institutes and centers across NIH steward and own their data repositories where researchers can access valuable datasets for their research.” It’s NIH’s role to help researchers access and use data effectively. She explains how they follow a guiding principle that envisions a modernized biomedical data ecosystem—called FAIR, or “findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable data.”

She also touches on the challenges they face and says, “interoperability [between datasets] is still very hard and requires not just a sort of harmonization of the different types of data and the way that those data are organized, but also harmonization between the platforms where they live.”

“We have a number of different programs and practices to help us make data interoperable…and putting most of our data assets in the cloud allows different resources researchers to access those data regardless of their where they are geographically and to participate in large-scale collaborations around those data,” she adds.

Auerbach adds his perceptions about the progress he sees with health agencies at the federal and state level and says, “there are multiple efforts underway to make data more accessible as well as accurate and timely. Virtually all the federal and the state health agencies are now engaged in activities to strengthen their data systems.”

But he also calls out the need for sustainable resources, upskilling the workforce to transform and maintain data and IT systems and ensuring data systems are updated, supported and aligned at the state, local, tribal and territorial levels in both the healthcare and public health sectors.

Watch the interview to learn more about making data readily available and usable and learn more about unlocking data as a strategic asset.

This video panel discussion was produced by Scoop News Group and FedScoop and underwritten by ICF.