Survey: Experts share progress in open data adoption across the country

Government, congressional, executive and tech leaders: open data is just as essential for internal management as for external transparency

Washington, D.C., — Today the Data Foundation and Grant Thornton released the second edition of The State of the Union of Open Data, which combines the perspectives of more than 20 government and industry leaders collected through one-on-one interviews. Their consensus? Once government and the private sector transition to open data – information both electronically standardized and freely available – it becomes a valuable resource with both internal and external applications.

“Government data leaders are telling us that once they standardize and publish their information as open data, they create new decision-making tools,” said Hudson Hollister, president of the Data Foundation. “The DATA Act of 2014 mandated this transformation for the federal government’s spending information. We’re now seeing a new eagerness to transform financial services and grantee information in the same way, to achieve similar benefits.”

“We have made great progress over the last year in promoting the dissemination and use of open data,” said Adam Hughes, director of marketing and government affairs with Grant Thornton Public Sector. “Even as open data starts to become the default approach in both government and the private sector, there are still many opportunities for leaders to embrace open data approaches to improve efficiencies and outcomes – particularly in the management of federal programs.”

Report highlights:
  • Nearly 82% of respondents believed the standardization of data in their fields has improved in the last year.
  • Increasingly, private-sector companies are reaching for the same benefits as government agencies by voluntarily publishing their operational information as open data.
  • “We recognize modernizing government is not a sprint, but it’s a marathon and it’s a relay race from one administration to the next. Only by working together can we truly achieve this progress for our country.” ─ Chris Liddell, Assistant to the President, White House Office of American Innovation
  • Several interviewees highlighted that while the technical challenges associated with standardizing and opening data are not particularly complicated, the cultural challenges involved require strong leaders capable of using a soft touch when necessary.
  • “If the government is going to dole out $600 billion [in grants], then we must utilize the incredible technology we have at our disposal to streamline the federal grant reporting process and learn something from all [those] hardworking taxpayer[s’] money.” ─Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • “Once we make open data a standard practice, we’ll have a more responsive government. I think that’s why you’ve seen buy in from both Democrats and Republicans. Because we’re really focused on empowering positive change for our government and for citizens and for innovators.” ─Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
  • “Open data is not just a transparency exercise. It’s really integral to the management of the federal government itself.” ─Margie Graves, Acting Federal Chief Information Officer, White House Office of Management and Budget

Interviewees found the three emerging open data sectors – government, compliance, and private sector – to be interesting on their own, but argued even more potential comes through the sectors’ combination and comingling. Furthermore, interviewees noted the three categories of benefits – external transparency, internal management, and automatic reporting – are similarly intertwined.

Full list of interviewees:
  • Phil Ashlock, Chief Architect,
  • Victoria Collin, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Federal Financial Management, White House Office of Management and Budget
  • Rob Cook, Director, Technology Transformation Service, General Services Administration Laurent Crenshaw, Director of Public Policy, Yelp
  • Ren Essene, Manager, Policy Section of the Chief Data Officer, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Paul Ferree, Data Analytics Product Director, Conference of State Banking Supervisors
  • Anthony Fung, Deputy Secretary of Technology, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Margie Graves, acting Chief Information Officer of the United States
  • Rachel Han, Director of Business Development, OpenDataSoft
  • Nate Haskins, Chief Data Officer, S&P Global Market Intelligence
  • Christina Ho, Founder, Policy Insights
  • Steve Ibach, Vice President – Product Development, Inmar
  • Marcel Jemio, Chief Data Architect, Office of Personnel Management
  • Representative Derek Kilmer
  • Dave Mader, Chief Strategy Officer, Civilian Sector, Deloitte
  • Justin Marsico, Senior Policy Analyst, Department of the Treasury
  • Patrick McLaughlin, Director, Program for Economic Research, Mercatus Center, George Mason University
  • Adam Neufeld, former Deputy Administrator, General Services Administration
  • Lauren Riplinger, Senior Director, Federal Relations, AHIMA
  • Dominic Sale, Deputy Associate Administrator, Information Integrity and Access, General Services Administration
  • Jon Sotsky, Director, Strategy & Assessment, Knight Foundation
  • Justin Stekervetz, Solution Architect, Office of Accounting Policy and Financial Transparency, Department of the Treasury
  • Chris Traver, Senior Advisor for Information Sharing, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Mike Willis, Assistant Director, Office of Structured Disclosure, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, Securities and Exchange Commission

Carling Spelhaug
T+1 303 813 4050

Jessica Yabsley
T+1 202 415 4025

About The Data Foundation
The Data Foundation is the nation’s first industry-focused open data research organization. Through research, education, and programming, the Data Foundation supports the publication of government information as standardized, open data.

About Grant Thornton Public Sector
Grant Thornton Public Sector helps executives and managers at all levels of government maximize their performance and efficiency in the face of ever tightening budgets and increased demand for services. Grant Thornton Public Sector gives clients creative, cost-effective solutions that enhance their acquisition, financial, human capital, information technology, data analytics and performance management.

About Grant Thornton LLP
Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues in excess of $1.7 billion and operates 59 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions.