DATA Demo Day, Capitol Hill, May 16, 2013

Video credit: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform



On May 16, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hosted the second DATA Act Demonstration Day, an opportunity for Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and the public to learn how open data technologies could help the U.S. federal government cut waste, streamline reporting processes, and improve public accountability - if federal spending data were fully standardized and published, as would be required under the DATA Act. Chairman Darrell Issa, Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor opened the event.


Twenty-five leading tech companies and two pro-accountability nonprofits presented live demonstrations to Members of Congress, representatives of federal agencies, the media, and the public.


The Coalition published a full write-up of the DATA Demo Day in Data Transparency News on May 21, 2013.


Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings

Photo credit: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform



DATA Demo Day presentations


   3 Round Stones explained how the DATA Act will facilitate the publication of federal spending details as open, linked data.


   Accenture (presentation summary) previewed Big Data analytics that could be applied to federal spending data, if fully standardized and published under the DATA Act.


   Coalition Regular Member Adaptive (presentation summary) showed how its metadata management tools could allow the federal government to quickly and easily implement DATA Act standards throughout its financial, procurement, and assistance systems.


   Coalition Individual Member Cambridge Semantics  (presentation summary) explained how the standardization of federal spending data under the DATA Act will transform siloed compilations into connected, interactive 'Smart Data,' instantly available for semantics-based exploitation.


   Coalition Individual Member Elder Research (presentation summary) demonstrated its RADR contract fraud detection tool, currently deployed by the U.S. Postal Service, and explained how the DATA Act's standards will allow similar fraud detection tools to be deployed across all federal spending without significant normalization or staging challenges.


   EMC (presentation summary) presented its Archer vendor management software, which could easliy be applied to automate and streamline the oversight of federal grants and contracts - if government-wide data standards are imposed, allowing the easy aggregation of recipient data from different silos.


   Esri (presentation summary) showed how the geographic impact of federal spending could be mapped if the data were standardized under the DATA Act.


   Google (presentation summary) presented open-data tools including Google Fusion Tables, Google for Civic Developers, and Google Public Data Explorer, and called for policymakers to support the release of open public data at all levels of government.


   IBM (presentation summary) demonstrated its Smarter Analytics Anti-Fraud, Waste and Abuse Solution, whose effectiveness would be further enhanced if the federal government standardized its financial, procurement, and assistance data under the DATA Act.


   Informatica (presentation summary) presented its Big Data platform, which allows uers to access, integrate, and manage data of any scale, from any source, and combine it to generate insights and value otherwise unachievable. Once the DATA Act is implemented, the Informatica platform could use newly-standardized federal spending data to generate actionable insights for increased compliance, reduced data integration and standardization efforts, better customer support, and improved decision making.


   Coalition Regular Member IPHIX (presentation summary) showed how the DATA Act could allow federal inspectors general to gauge the riskiness of awards by accessing recipients' financial regulatory filings. If the right data standards had been in place, the Department of Energy could have used SEC filings to discover that Solyndra was at risk and avoided issuing a loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer.


   Coalition Regular Member Level One Technologies (presentation summary) showcased its Parrascope reporting software, a tool that automates grantee and contractor reporting to allow sub-recipients to fulfill reporting obligations in five minutes.


   Microsoft and Unissant (presentation summary) used the Securities and Exchange Commission's implementation of the open XBRL reporting standard to illustrate how the DATA Act would benefit citizens, developers, investors, and government through the automation of processes that currently are performed manually.


   Oracle presented its anti-fraud analytics platform, which could utilize DATA Act standards to provide more sophisticated insights to inspectors general and agencies.


   Oversight Systems (presentation summary) reported that the greatest challenges to technology-driven oversight of federal assistance and procurement lie in access to, quality of and format of data from recipients. The DATA Act's standards will allow the federal government to deliver interoperable recipient data, reducing all three of these challenges. Oversight Systems hopes to augment its existing solutions and design new ones using newly-available compilations standardized under the DATA Act.


   Poplicus (presentation summary) showed how its Govini business intelligence platform, which allows companies to visualize government procurement data, could use DATA Act standards to enhance the granularity and richness of the data it provides.


   Coalition Reguar Member RR Donnelley (presentation summary) presented its ActiveDisclosure solution for corporate securities reporting and explained how ActiveDisclosure could steamline grantees' and contractors' existing compliance burdens if the federal government standardized and consolidated their reporting requirements, as the DATA Act would require.


   SAS (presentation summary) explained the impact of government-wide recipient identifiers and reporting formats - which the DATA Act would require - on its existing fraud detection services. These standards would allow the federal government, assisted by SAS, to discern false contractor and grantee identities more easily, use probabilistic matching to illuminate suspicious characteristics in recipient reports, and improve data quality through automatic checks.


   Coalition Reguar Member Smartronix (presentation summary) featured the accountability platform, which Smartronix helped build for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). uses standardized stimulus spending data to deliver unprecedented transparency to taxpayers, watchdogs, and legislators. The DATA Act would extend the standards-based approach that the Recovery Board pioneered under the stimulus to encompass all federal spending.


   Socrata (presentation summary) explained how its Open Checkbook application delivers transaction-level spending data to taxpayers for state and local government clients - and could easily do so on the federal level if Congress passes the DATA Act, which would require consistent, detailed publication and standardization of federal financial data for the first time.


   Spikes Cavell (presentation summary) presented its suite of spend management tools that help governments to analyze, understand, and interpret their own data. Spikes Cavell's tools will be easily deployable by federal agencies without customization if the federal government adopts consistent data standards for its spending under the DATA Act.


   Tableau Software presented visualizations of federal stimulus spending that allow the public, policymakers, and overseers to derive insights and discern patterns. These visualizations are possible because the Recovery Board chose to apply data standards to reports on stimulus grants and contracts - standards that do not exist outside the stimulus but which would be imposed under the DATA Act.


   Coalition Executive Member Teradata (presentation summary) spotlighted the enterprise data warehouse it constructed for the state government of Michigan. Since Michigan has adopted statewide data identifiers for recipients of state funds, its Teradata enterprise data warehouse can detect Medicaid fraud as it is happening, match criminal records against previously-unconnected local jurisdictions, allocate welfare benefits more efficiently, and more. Michigan estimates that the enterprise data warehouse saves state taxpayers $1 million per business day. Similar efforts are not yet possible on the federal level because the federal government has not yet adopted comparable government-wide data standards, but these standards would be required under the DATA Act.


   Waze (presentation summary) showed how its crowd-based traffic congestion intelligence platform could be used to track the effectiveness of federal transportation projects in reducing congestion - if the projects and the disbursements for them were tracked using standardized identifiers. The DATA Act would require the adoption of such standards.


   Coalition Regular Member WebFilings' Wdesk business reporting software has allowed public companies to reduce preparation time by up to 20 days for reports they submit to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Wdesk could achieve similar savings for federal grantees and contractors under the DATA Act, which would standardize and consolidate the currently-chaotic system of federal recipient reporting. (Presentation summary.)


   The Sunlight Foundation (presentation summary) reported that nearly all federal grant programs failed to report their spending correctly on in fiscal year 2011, the last year for which a manual analysis is available. By standardizing grant reporting, the DATA Act would allow automatic quality checks to improve the accuracy of both grant and contract reporting - and allow watchdog organizations like Sunlight to analyze the data for accuracy with fewer manual steps.


   The Cato Institute (presentation summary) showed how its legislative data transformation work allows Congress and the public to extract meaning from proposed legislation, but is hampered by a lack of official data standards to identify agencies, agency divisions, programs, grants, contracts, and recipients. The DATA Act would require the federal government to adopt these standards.


DATA Demo Day announcements and coverage


May 20, 2013: State and Local Technology Shows Feds How to Cut Waste, Improper Payments, CivSource


May 17, 2013: DATA Act, Promising to Increase Federal Spending Accountability, Rises Again, TechPresident


May 16, 2013: Issa reboots the DATA Act, FCW


May 6, 2013: Read the Data Transparency Coalition's announcement here.


May 3, 2013: Read the Oversight Committee's announcement here.


July 2012: Read about the first DATA Demo Day, hosted by the Data Transparency Coalition and Microsoft, here.