Cultivating a Data Culture in the United States

April 7, 2015
Aid Effectiveness & Management, News/Events

A few weeks ago, the AidData Partnership co-hosted a consultation event at the OpenGov Hub with Department of State’s Office of US Foreign Assistance Resources, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) and USAID Global Development Lab. Under the theme of “Do More With Data,” this event featured participants from the public and private sectors, spanning the spectrum of open supply and demand.

From my perspective, what was most striking about this event was hearing representatives from the US Government (USG) express the same types of frustrations as Development Gateway’s international government partners – the challenges of securing internal buy-in for procedural changes, reporting burdens, system incompatibilities, inter-agency data sharing, and more.

In truth, these obstacles should not have been surprising. The USG, like all other governments, is composed of thousands of individuals, obligations, and technological systems.

And fortunately, like many other governments, the USG is filled with people pushing for better, more innovative policies and practices. From department heads and Presidential Innovation Fellows, to the team and bureau information officers, hundreds of “data champions” are pushing for higher-quality data that is easy to curate and easier to use.

How can we as private citizens support more, higher-quality open data from the USG? Keep asking for and using more. There is an undeniably high demand within the USG for this information. However, as Dennis Vega emphasized in his remarks, external demand supports internal champions in a big way. If citizens and civil society can demonstrate an interest in, and use of, government information, it can become easier for champions to make internal inroads. 

After numerous studies on data use, citizen voice, and data ecosystems internationally, we cannot forget to apply those lessons here at home. Open data starts with individuals, and it’s all of our responsibilities to cultivate a thriving and transparent ecosystem.

Image from AidData’s Twitter.

Share This Post

Related from our library

Developing Data Systems: Five Issues IREX and DG Explored at Festival de Datos

IREX and Development Gateway: An IREX Venture participated in Festival de Datos from November 7-9, 2023. In this blog, Philip Davidovich, Annie Kilroy, Josh Powell, and Tom Orrell explore five key issues discussed at Festival de Datos on advancing data systems and how IREX and DG are meeting these challenges.

January 17, 2024 Data Management Systems and MEL
Unlocking the potential of digital public infrastructure for climate data and agriculture: Malawi

DG’s DAS Program recently attended an event on creating a national digital public infrastructure (DPI) in Malawi in order to increase the impact of climate data to combat current and future agricultural issues caused by climate change. In this blog, we reflect on three insights on DPIs that were revealed during the event discussion.

December 21, 2023 Agriculture
What Does a Good Agriculture Data System Look Like? Reflections from 2023 Festival de Datos

DG's joint session at 2023 Festival de Datos posed the question: What does a “good” agriculture data system look like? In this blog post, we'll delve into the key principles that emerged from the discussion.

December 14, 2023 Agriculture