Creating a data-first culture at federal agencies — FCW

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 provides guidelines on how agencies should collect and analyze data to promote effective and efficient policymaking across programs and organizations. Data, not gut feelings or political influence, will determine how policy is created, modified or retired and whether a program achieves its intended objectives….

The legislation also incorporates the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act of 2018, which requires federal agencies to make their program and activity data available in machine-readable format and to maintain and publish inventories of their datasets. The rich datasets captured will be available to the public and, more importantly, shareable among federal agencies. Having accessible data finally gives federal agencies the ability to explore critical metrics about the citizens they are serving, programs they are executing and the results of their work. …”

Creating a data-first culture at federal agencies — FCW

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 provides guidelines on how agencies should collect and analyze data to promote effective and efficient policymaking across programs and organizations. Data, not gut feelings or political influence, will determine how policy is created, modified or retired and whether a program achieves its intended objectives….

The legislation also incorporates the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act of 2018, which requires federal agencies to make their program and activity data available in machine-readable format and to maintain and publish inventories of their datasets. The rich datasets captured will be available to the public and, more importantly, shareable among federal agencies. Having accessible data finally gives federal agencies the ability to explore critical metrics about the citizens they are serving, programs they are executing and the results of their work. …”

THE OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP: FOURTH OPEN GOVERNMENT NATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, February 2019

“This roadmap for the next two years outlines a selection of Trump Administration objectives to make government information more open and accessible for developers, academics, entrepreneurs and everyday Americans….

3) Provide Public Access to Federally Funded Research

Primarily through the National Science and Technology Council (Council), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates United States efforts to make the results of Federally funded scientific research more accessible and useful to the public, industry, and the scientific community. In the Council’s Subcommittee on Open Science, thirty-two United States agency funders collaborate to improve the preservation, discoverability, accessibility, and usability of Federally funded scientific research, with the aims of bolstering the reliability of that research, accelerating scientific discovery, stimulating innovation, enhancing economic growth and job creation.

In 2018, the Subcommittee on Open Science was re-chartered to promote open science principles across the Federal Government and increase public access to Federally-funded research results. The Subcommittee’s priorities include: (1) Facilitating coordination across Federal Government agencies on open science efforts; (2) Developing appropriate incentives to encourage researchers to adopt open science principles; (3) Streamlining and synchronizing agency and researcher data management practices for maximum utility to the public; (4) Collaborating with academia, researcher communities, and industry toward the development of research data standards that further open science. As part of the Subcommittee’s objectives, it will develop a report that provides recommendations for improvements to existing Federal open access policies and continued collaboration between agencies on achieving open access objectives….”

If Software Is Funded from a Public Source, Its Code Should Be Open Source | Linux Journal

“If we pay for it, we should be able to use it….

But it’s important not to overstate the “free as in beer” element here. All major software projects have associated costs of implementation and support. Departments choosing free software simply because they believe it will save lots of money in obvious ways are likely to be disappointed, and that will be bad for open source’s reputation and future projects….

Moving to open-source solutions does not guarantee that personal data will not leak out, but it does ensure that the problems, once found, can be fixed quickly by government IT departments—something that isn’t the case for closed-source products. This is a powerful reason why public funds should mean open source—or as a site created by the Free Software Foundation Europe puts it: “If it is public money, it should be public code as well”.

The site points out some compelling reasons why any government code produced with public money should be free software. They will all be familiar enough to readers of Linux Journal. For example, publicly funded code that is released as open source can be used by different departments, and even different governments, to solve similar problems. That opens the way for feedback and collaboration, producing better code and faster innovation. And open-source code is automatically available to the people who paid for it—members of the public. They too might be able to offer suggestions for improvement, find bugs or build on it to produce exciting new applications. None of these is possible if government code is kept locked up by companies that write it on behalf of taxpayers….”

Discovering Patterns in Brazilian Open Data using OrientDB

“Here in Brazil, our deputies have a monthly quota to perform their job. Let’s say that some deputy needs to buy a flight ticket or buy gas to the car in order to go to a meeting, he or she can use this monthly quota to do that. However, this money is public, therefore there are some rules to use it. One specific rule caught my attention, and it says that the deputies cannot use the money to buy a product or a service with companies that he or she is a partner, or a relative until third degree is a partner. With that information in mind I wondered if it would be possible to discover whether a deputy was using this quota illegally….

To perform all that I decided to use a graph oriented database. I chose OrientDB as the DBMS because of the query language derived from SQL. In the next sections I will explain the whole process to achieve those goals….”

Congress votes to make open government data the default in the United States | E Pluribus Unum

On December 21, 2018, the United States House of Representatives voted to enact H.R. 4174, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017, in a historic win for open government in the United States of America.

The Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act (AKA the OPEN Government Data Act) is about to become law as a result. This codifies two canonical principles for democracy in the 21st century:

  1. public information should be open by default to the public in a machine-readable format, where such publication doesn’t harm privacy or security
  2. federal agencies should use evidence when they make public policy….”

The state copyright conundrum: What’s your state government’s rule on copyright? | Courtney | College & Research Libraries News

“U.S. copyright law has a unique place in the world regarding federal works and copyright. Federal copyright law states that “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government.”1 This is a broad and clear statement that works of the federal government are in the public domain and are free for use by all.

The copyright status of works of the state governments, however, is often far more difficult to determine. While reasonable policy would contend that state government works should be available to the public at large, many states assert a copyright interest in their materials, and, most concerning, many more lack any clear legal guidance on the issue. States often produce a variety of copyrighted works. Figuring out whether these state materials are copyrighted is a tricky question, and one that many librarians and archivists face from time to time.

Several years ago, one such state copyright conundrum arrived at my doorstep at just the right time. The question furthered a concept I had been toying with for years. The library community could benefit from the creation of an overall resource outlining the patchwork of state copyright laws. This would also give librarians, archivists, lawyers, and the public the ability to use this resource as an effective tool for advocacy and greater understanding of state copyright. The result was the State Copyright Resource Center….”

Pesticide Studies Won E.P.A.’s Trust, Until Trump’s Team Scorned ‘Secret Science’ – The New York Times

“The project, run by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, is still going all these years later. Known as Chamacos, Spanish for “children,” it has linked pesticides sprayed on fruit and vegetable crops with respiratory complications, developmental disorders and lower I.Q.s among children of farm workers. State and federal regulators have cited its findings to help justify proposed restrictions on everything from insecticides to flame-retardant chemicals.

But the Trump administration wants to restrict how human studies like Chamacos are used in rule-making. A government proposal this year, called Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, could stop them from being used to justify regulating pesticides, lead and pollutants like soot, and undermine foundational research behind national air-quality rules. The E.P.A., which has funded these kinds of studies, is now labeling many of them “secret science.” …”

HHS Plans to Delete 20 Years of Critical Medical Guidelines Next Week | US Department of Health and Human Services

“Experts say the database of carefully curated medical guidelines is one of a kind, used constantly by medical professionals, and on July 16 will ‘go dark’ due to budget cuts.

The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate a vast trove of medical guidelines that for nearly 20 years has been a critical resource for doctors, researchers and others in the medical community. Maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the database is known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse [NGC], and it’s scheduled to “go dark,” in the words of an official there, on July 16. Medical guidelines like those compiled by AHRQ aren’t something laypeople spend much time thinking about, but experts like Valerie King, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of Research at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, said the NGC is perhaps the most important repository of evidence-based research available. “Guideline.gov was our go-to source, and there is nothing else like it in the world,” King said, referring to the URL at which the database is hosted, which the agency says receives about 200,000 visitors per month. “It is a singular resource,” King added. Medical guidelines are best thought of as cheatsheets for the medical field, compiling the latest research in an easy-to use format. When doctors want to know when they should start insulin treatments, or how best to manage an HIV patient in unstable housing — even something as mundane as when to start an older patient on a vitamin D supplement — they look for the relevant guidelines. The documents are published by a myriad of professional and other organizations, and NGC has long been considered among the most comprehensive and reliable repositories in the world. AHRQ said it’s looking for a partner that can carry on the work of NGC, but that effort hasn’t panned out yet. “AHRQ agrees that guidelines play an important role in clinical decision making, but hard decisions had to be made about how to use the resources at our disposal,” said AHRQ spokesperson Alison Hunt in an email. The operating budget for the NGC last year was $1.2 million, Hunt said, and reductions in funding forced the agency’s hand.”

8 Ways Departing EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Suppressed Science – Truthdig

“In March, Pruitt proposed a new “science transparency policy.” Under the proposed rule, when the EPA designs pollution standards and rules, it would use only studies in which the underlying data is public. Pruitt said his policy would prevent the EPA from using “secret science” that cannot be tested by other researchers. But scientists say important findings could be excluded.

One example is research by Harvard University that linked fine particle pollution in U.S. cities with an increase in deaths from lung and heart diseases. The data for the 1993 study was key to the EPA’s setting of health standards that regulate air pollution. But the study’s underlying data is not public because researchers promised confidentiality to their subjects, 8,000 adults and 14,000 children in six cities….”