New captain, advisers leading Commerce more deeply into open data

Tuesday - 7/22/2014, 4:28am EDT

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

The Department of Commerce will soon have a captain to lead its ventures into open data. The department will hire its first-ever chief data officer as one of several open data initiatives, Secretary Penny Pritzker announced July 14 at the Esri International User's conference.

"The new chief data officer will pull together a platform for all data sets; instigate and oversee improvements in data collection and dissemination; and ensure that data programs are coordinated, comprehensive and strategic," Commerce stated in a press release.

Along with a new CDO, Commerce will launch other open data initiatives. Pritzker said the department is establishing a Data Advisory Council made up of private-sector leaders, who will advise Commerce on using government data more effectively. Through the council, the agency hopes to deliver data more quickly and in more accessible formats, as well as improve data use in business and agency strategies and develop new data services.

The council gives Commerce the opportunity to work with private sector businesses and realize the full potential of the agency's immense data storehouses, Pritzker said at the conference.

The advisory council will meet four times a year, and members will serve two-year terms, according to the press release. The council will work within Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration.

In line with Commerce's open data efforts, the International Trade Administration recently launched a "Developer Portal," which publishes trade and investment data where businesses can easily access it, Pritzker said.

Through this portal, "the developer community will be able to integrate the data into applications and mash-ups to help U.S. business owners compete abroad, while also creating more jobs here at home," Commerce stated in the release.

"Commerce data inform decisions that help make government smarter, keep businesses more competitive and better inform citizens about their own communities, with the potential to guide up to $3.3 trillion in investments in the United States each year," Pritzker said.

The department holds a vast number of important and varying data sets, earning the nickname "America's Data Agency," according to the release.

Pritzker said Commerce is "working to unleash more of its data to strengthen the nation's economic growth; make its data easier to access, understand, and use; and maximize the return of data investments for businesses, entrepreneurs, government, taxpayers and communities."

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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