Building a More Awesome Federal Government Starts with Open Data

March 2, 2016 9:26 am PST | Data as a Service

The promise and potential of digital government is a hot topic of discussion in Washington, D.C., this spring. While many agencies are just beginning to explore the possibilities of how data can transform government, two agencies are leading the way.

Hillary Hartley, Deputy Executive Director of 18F at the General Services Administration, and Avi Bender, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Census Bureau, have big goals for how data can lead to better citizen engagement and mission success, but are realistic that “transformation happens a little at a time.”

Improving Lives

“To transform government services, we have to transform outdated practices. The only lasting way to do that is by transforming the culture of service delivery. I want people’s lives to be better. I want their interactions with government to be easier. I want these services to be streamlined for you, for me, selfishly. Big transformation happens a little at a time,” Hartley said.

Hartley’s message resonated with Colonel Bobby Saxon, former Deputy CIO and current Division Chief and Program Director, Army G-3, who heard her talk at a recent event.

Connecting Data

Avi Bender is one of Hartley’s allies in the move to transform government through data. One of the issues he’s grappling with is how to connect the dots for all the data points and information sources that the Census Bureau can access. “If there was a way to connect this information, we would derive incredible insights, both about the present and the future of our country. The challenge of course has been connecting this information,” said Bender.

Bender is starting that process of connecting the dots by having his team at the Census Bureau work with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as industry partners, like Socrata, to form a data savvy coalition.

Together, these digital government pioneers — from those presenting to those tweeting — are building the momentum needed to make government more responsive to citizens.

Learn how federal agencies are using open data as part of a more effective digital government strategy.