Sunday, June 24, 2012

Opening Up Federal Data

Dr. John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within the Executive Office of the President appeared before the June 20th House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing on “Examining Priorities and Effectiveness of the Nation’s Science Polices”.

In his statement before the House, he explained how OSTP has worked with OMB, GSA, and other Federal partners to open up Federal government data to the public., the government’s open data site has grown from 47 datasets three years ago to nearly 450,000 datasets today.

The Federal government also has a growing number of websites, including the Open Government Dashboard,,, the IT dashboard, the R&D Dashboard, and to provide details on Federal spending and performance.

Currently, the Administration is building up open data initiatives and the digital government strategy. The goal is to make government and private sector data widely available to the public in machine readable formats that are ready for use by private sector innovators to develop useful apps on mobile platforms.

Dr. Holdren explained how in an effort to move “big data” forward, last March, the Administration announced the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative.” By improving the ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data, the initiative promises to help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering and strengthen our national security.

Dr. Holdren told the Committee that OSTP is very involved in developing a neuroscience initiative to advance knowledge in the fundamental understanding of learning, brain development, and brain health and recovery.

Advances in this field will require improved neuroscientific tools, enhanced data, data infrastructure, and necessitate interdisciplinary research efforts. As a result, OSTP has established an interagency working group to coordinate Federal investments in neuroscience research at NIH, NSF, VA, DOD, and other Federal agencies.

The working group will focus on developing clinical treatments for traumatic and acquired brain injuries, better understanding of cognition and learning, and improve the understanding of therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness, childhood developmental disorders, and other neurological conditions.