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Intel Applauds Senate Passage of OPEN Government Data Act, Urges House to Follow Suit in 115th Congress

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By Cisco C. Minthorn, Director of Government Relations and Senior Counsel

We are at the dawn of a fourth industrial revolution.  Advances in our capacity to transmit, store, and analyze large amounts of data can hold tremendous societal benefits, including new, more effective treatments to disease, personalized educational resources, economic empowerment for the masses, more effective government, and a cleaner environment.  But in order for these benefits to be realized, we need Congressionally-mandated data policies in place that foster innovation.

President Obama’s Administration deserves a great deal of credit for helping to advance good data policy over the past eight years.  The outgoing Administration’s default policy on federal data resources was one of open data – the notion that appropriate federal data troves (i.e. those that don’t involve national security or other confidential matters) should be open and freely accessible to the public.  This accessibility means data resources are put in the hands of private sector innovators who could use them to create new jobs and potentially even new industries.  And, it means that our government is more transparent and accountable to taxpayers.

Intel was proud to contribute to this effort.  When Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker formed the Commerce Data Advisory Council (CDAC) - an advisory panel comprised of top experts from across the public, private, and non-profit sectors who provide guidance and insight to help institutionalize stronger data collection and dissemination at the Department, Kim Stevenson, Chief Operating Officer of Intel’s Client and Internet of Things Businesses and Systems Architecture (CISA) Group, served as Co-Chair.  The CDAC issued its final guidance to Secretary Pritzker on October 28, 2016, and chief among its recommendations was institutionalizing the progress made on data under President Obama – something that will require a Congressional mandate unless it is to ebb and flow with the changing priorities of future Presidential Administrations.

That we need certainty with regard to federal data policy is not lost on Congressional leaders.  During the 114th Congress, Senators Schatz and Sasse and Representatives Kilmer and Farenthold spearheaded a bi-partisan, bi-cameral effort to institutionalize open data, but while the OPEN Government Data Act passed the Senate last week, it never got past Committee in the House, and therefore it must work its way through the legislative process again, starting next year.  Intel applauds the work of the bill’s sponsors and urges Congress to build on the progress made this year to formally institutionalize sound federal data policy.