This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Putting Government Data to Work: A New Report From The GovLab Outlines Private Sector Recommendations for Improving Commerce Department Data Management

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
News Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs, 202-482-4883

The Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University today released “Realizing The Potential of Open Government Data: A Roundtable with the U.S. Department of Commerce,” a report on findings and recommendations for ways the U.S. Commerce Department can improve its data management, dissemination and use. The report summarizes a June 2014 Open Data Roundtable, co-hosted by The GovLab and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with the Commerce Department, which brought together Commerce data providers and 25 representatives from the private sector and nonprofit organizations for an action-oriented dialogue on data issues and potential solutions. The GovLab is convening a series of other Open Data Roundtables in its mission to help make government more effective and connected to the public through technology. 

“We were honored to work with the White House and the Department of Commerce to convene this event,” said Joel Gurin, senior advisor at The GovLab and project director of the Open Data 500 and the Roundtable Series. “The Department's commitment to engaging with its data customers opens up great opportunities for public-private collaboration.” 

Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Mark Doms said, “At the Commerce Department, we are only at the beginning of our open data effort. We share the goals and objectives embodied by the call of the Open Data 500: to deliver data that is valuable to industry and that provides greater economic opportunity for millions of Americans.” 

This GovLab report is designed to encourage further dialogue, participation and collaboration between the Department’s data providers and its data users and stakeholders. The GovLab has identified seven key areas for Commerce Department improvement based on the Roundtable participants’ discussion: 

  • Data Discovery and Findability
  • Data Access
  • Data Quality
  • Data Collection and Sharing
  • Data Interoperability
  • Data Storage and Dissemination
  • Data Users as Customers 

The GovLab report also includes commitments that the Commerce Department has already made in response to discussions during the Roundtable, as well as opportunities for the private sector and civil society organizations to contribute feedback and solutions. As a result of the Roundtable, several Commerce Department bureaus – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the International Trade Administration (ITA), and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) – have also made concrete commitments to improve their data policies and management practices. 

In July, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the expansion and enhancement of Commerce data programs, which was based in part on feedback from the Open Data Roundtable participants. Specifically, the Department will hire its first-ever Chief Data Officer, who will be responsible for developing a plan for the future of the data resources at Commerce and ensure that data dissemination is coordinated, comprehensive and strategic. The Commerce Department is also creating a Data Advisory Council, which will be comprised of 15 private sector leaders to advise the Department on the best use of its data, including accessibility and usability. 

The Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” unveiled in November 2013, prioritizes unleashing more government data to help business leaders make the best possible decisions, while creating fertile ground for more startups. The strategic data goal calls for data producers within the Department to listen to suggestions from those already using Commerce data and to get the private sector’s guidance on where the federal government can unlock the greatest value in its data sets. 

The GovLab's research helps connect government and the private sector through its Open Data 500 study of companies that use open government data as a key business resource. Companies from this study that use Commerce data were invited to the Roundtable. The Open Data 500 study is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. To learn more about The GovLab, visit