Remarks from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at the Inaugural Meeting of the Commerce Data Advisory Council


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Good afternoon. Welcome to the inaugural meeting of the Commerce Data Advisory Council.

Thank you, Under Secretary Mark Doms, for your leadership in making our Department the first stop for economic data for America’s businesses.

Thank you to Ian Kalin for coming on-board as our first-ever Chief Data Officer and to Lynn Overmann for serving as our Deputy Chief Data Officer.

Ian, Lynn, and our data team are already hard at work developing our strategy to make Commerce data easier to find, access, and use.

It is not hyperbole to call the Department of Commerce, “America’s Data Agency.”

No other department can rival the reach, depth, and breadth of our data programs – from the time to GDP; from personal income to population growth; from the exports of local businesses to reports on the local weather.

With so much valuable information collected, organized, and analyzed by this Department, we made data one of the five key pillars of our “Open for Business Agenda,” along with trade and investment; innovation; environment; and operational excellence.

Disseminating Commerce data to more customers will make businesses more competitive, government smarter, and citizens better informed.

But we need to do a better job in maximizing the value of Commerce data. That is where we need your insights and ideas.

We need your advice and recommendations on how we can best:

  • Improve data management practices;
  • Develop common open data standards;
  • Build effective models for public-private partnerships;
  • Expand external uses of Commerce data;
  • Enhance communication between non-government stakeholders and subject matter experts at Commerce.

We need your input to guide our efforts:

  • To better anticipate the needs of businesses;
  • To deliver data in more usable, timely, and accessible ways; and
  • To improve how data is utilized to make businesses and government more effective and efficient.

I have a fundamental question: as stewards of taxpayer dollars, should we charge for access to our data, or have some form of revenue?

With your experience and expertise, this Council’s task is to answer some of the central questions facing our Department’s data efforts today:

  • Should the government focus on raw, wholesale data or the “apps” that deliver retail data?
  • How should we evolve to maintain protections of privacy, confidentiality, and security in the dissemination of our data?
  • What can we do to foster the best technical skills and data resources without competing with companies like yours?
  • Earlier this week, NOAA launched a public-private partnership to release more environmental and weather data, working with several of the companies in this room, including Amazon Web Services, IBM, Microsoft, and Google Cloud Services. Where else should our Department take a similar approach to public-private partnerships?

These questions are intended to provoke a lively and productive discussion. But at the end of the day, my broader challenge to you is:  To come up with a top 10 list of what we can do on data in the next year to better serve businesses – our customers; and

Please lay out recommendations that will be of the greatest value to our Department.

As a fiduciary, as a steward of a public good, what should we prioritize for our data assets?

We can make a great deal of progress in a short period of time.

Let’s use this first meeting to establish your priorities, reach consensus on a plan of action, then start to flesh out the next steps for putting your ideas into practice.

I know this is only the beginning, but the recommendations you make over the next 2 days will become our guidelines for the next 2 years.

I look forward to hearing your insights – as the top data thought leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, your ideas will enable us to make a smart data strategy part of our DNA as a Department – now and in the years to come.

Through the Commerce Data Advisory Council, let’s work together to maintain and strengthen the place of this Department as “America’s Data Agency.”

Let’s make sure Commerce data remains open to the public – and open for business. 

Thank you for being here.

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Last updated: 2015-10-26 14:26

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