Federal agencies are embracing the promise of data-driven government in a big way. While agencies are often cited for being hesitant where new technology is concerned, the value of open data to mission success is spurring interest. From the White House’s Opportunity Project to the SCOTUS tracker and invaluable health and immunization data released by the CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, there are some truly innovative and valuable open data sets and projects being shared by federal agencies.
But for those agencies that are at the beginning of their data-driven journey, how to start an open data project is often the hardest part. Since there are few best practices that are shared, we were excited to hear Mike Kruger, Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Director of Digital Engagement for the Department of Commerce, speak at a recent event on digital government. During his talk, Kruger discussed how Commerce was one of the first agencies to create an open government plan and what he and his colleagues learned along the way. He was able to distill these important lessons into three actionable tips, one of which we shared below.
Tip 2: Tell an Engaging Story
Everyone loves a cool story, Kruger told the audience at the Digital Government Workshop. Based on his experiences, he told us that it’s important to make sure the project is clear and the findings of the project can be shared with others in a way that is meaningful. For example, the Department of Commerce started with data that told stories about their own operations. One of the projects was to identify trends in grant distribution that aren’t apparent without aggregating all of the grant data. The goal is to ensure that grants are distributed equally across all geographies. The data was pulled together to ensure that that certain geographic areas weren’t receiving an unbalanced portion of grant funding. Using this data, the agency is able to identify and consciously adjust to make their grant-making more fair and balanced for all Americans.
Want to find out what tips 1 and 3 are? You can find them over here.