5 things to know about the Federal Data Strategy project

In March, the White House laid out a long-term vision to modernize the federal government, dubbed the President's Management Agenda. One of the agenda's core tenets is building a robust focus on data and transparency across federal agencies.

To achieve this goal, the agenda outlined an initial action item: develop and implement a comprehensive Federal Data Strategy.

Here are five things to know about the Federal Data Strategy and its potential for healthcare:

1. The Federal Data Strategy will establish a coordinated approach for federal agencies' use and management of data, with a focus on serving the public while maintaining data privacy. It represents the "first governmentwide data strategy," according the program's website.

"Th​e use of data is transforming​ ​​the world," the website reads. "The way the federal government provides, maintains and uses data has a unique place in society and maintaining trust in​ ​​federal data is pivotal to a democratic process."

2. The Federal Data Strategy will focus on four areas:

  • Enterprise data governance
  • Access, use and augmentation
  • Decision-making and accountability
  • Commercialization, innovation and public use

3. An interagency team of senior federal staff will oversee the development of the Federal Data Strategy. The team will seek input from government and industry stakeholders to define a set of best practices for data use and establish a one-year action plan for its implementation, to be released in April 2019.

4. One of the key ways the team is using stakeholder input is by asking government and industry representatives to submit examples of successful data practices — for example, the team lists HHS' strategy to address the opioid crisis with data. The team said identifying actionable data management projects will help the federal government prioritize data infrastructure improvements.

5. The team closed its first call for comments on best practices July 30. The American Medical Informatics Association submitted a letter largely in support of the project, and it called coordinated management of federal data a "national imperative" that "builds on a long pedigree of federal efforts to manage federal data as an asset, stretching across decades of policy."

AMIA recommended the Federal Data Strategy outline how agencies should extend the concept of "data as an asset" to those who receive federal funding so that data generated under grants can be more readily accessible. The organization also suggested the Federal Data Strategy continue efforts to modernize internal IT investments around large-scale computing, among other suggestions.

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