Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • Celebrating “Open Science” Champions of Change at the White House


    On June 20, 2013, thirteen Champions of Change were honored at the White House for their extraordinary leadership in "open science." From left to right: First row: Jack Andraka, David Altshuler, M.D., Ph.D., Rebecca Moore, Kathy Giusti, Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Eric Kansa, Ph.D., Paul Ginsparg, Ph.D., and David J. Lipman, M.D.; Second row: Drew Endy, Ph.D., Atul Butte, M.D., Ph.D., John Quackenbush, Ph.D., William Noel, Ph.D., and Stephen Friend, M.D., Ph.D.

    Yesterday at the White House, Obama Administration officials honored 13 extraordinary leaders and organizations selected as “Champions of Change” for their work using and promoting open scientific data and publications to grow our economy and improve our world.

    A call for nominations issued last month resulted in hundreds of extraordinary candidates across a wide range of scientific disciplines—from biomedicine, archeology, astronomy and medieval writings. Of the nominees, 13 were selected based on their outstanding contributions to a growing open science movement that is unleashing scientific data and information for use by innovators, researchers, and entrepreneurs.

    At the event, the Champions were invited to highlight projects and initiatives that are helping make “open” the default for scientific research results, and several made additional exciting announcements about how they will continue to promote open science going forward.

    In remarks, John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, congratulated the new Champions for their outstanding efforts “to generate, promote, and use open scientific data as fuel for new products, successful businesses, and game-changing scientific insights.” Holdren also emphasized the power and potential benefits of unleashing scientific information for broad use, explaining that “the proposition behind open science is a simple one: more value is derived from scientific results when more people can access and use them.”

  • We the Geeks: Building a 21st Century Resume

    Ed. note: This event has concluded. Watch the full hangout below.

    Watch "We the Geeks" on a 21st Century Resume live on Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT at Join the conversation and ask your questions with the hashtag #WeTheGeeks. Sign up to get email updates about future hangouts.

    In the same way that “merit badges” have been used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and medals have been used by the military to demonstrate achievement, a growing number of foundations, government agencies, companies and non-profits are exploring “digital badges” as the 21st century equivalent of a resume-builder that students and workers can use to showcase their skills, encourage their peers, and find meaningful educational and employment opportunities. 

  • Open Data Going Global

    Open Data took another leap forward at this week’s G8 Summit in Long Erne, Northern Ireland, as member countries signed an Open Data Charter to spur the release and use of government-held data to advance economic opportunity, spur innovation, and increase accountability around the world. 

    The Open Data Charter outlines principles that member countries—the US, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan–will act on, including an expectation that all government data will be published openly by default, and that signatories will work to increase the quality, quantity, and re-use of released data. 

    The G8 Open Data charter builds upon recent historic steps the US has taken domestically. On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13462, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, directing efforts to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs and others as fuel for innovation and economic growth.

    When the Federal Government decided years ago to make weather data from satellites and ground stations public, it gave rise to an entire economic sector that has contributed billions to the economy and today includes weather newscasts, weather apps, commercial agricultural advisory services, and new insurance options—in addition to the vast public benefits derived from those activities. And more recently, as demonstrated by the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, we have seen entrepreneurs using open health data to power applications and services that help people throughout the country make informed healthcare decisions. Open government data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agencies is central to the data-powered revolution underway in health care today.

  • Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion

    Do you remember a moment when a mentor, teacher, or friend opened up your eyes to something that changed your life? Do you remember a wide-eyed moment when the impossible became possible and it put you on a path of discovery and maybe even helped put you on the career path you are on today?

    Heroes across the country help create these incredible moments every day. Many are working hard to connect and spark young minds to get excited about technology through mentoring; many others are dreaming up the technology tools themselves that can spark imagination and wonder.   These champions are inspiring students to get excited about becoming the developers, engineers, and innovators who will create solutions to some of our toughest challenges.

    This July, the White House will host a “Champions of Change” event on Tech Inclusion. This event will celebrate and honor local change-agents who are making these moments of wonder and discovery happen for kids – specifically those making a difference for kids from communities underrepresented in technology, like girls and minorities. 

    And today, we’re asking you to help us identify these standout local leaders by nominating a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion by July 1st. 

  • New Tools to Help the Hungry and Malnourished

    Poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children globally each year – and prevents the minds and bodies of another 165 million children from reaching their full potential. In addition, nutrition is a serious economic issue: experts estimate that undernutrition reduces national economic advancement in Africa and Asia by 8% each year.  Thankfully, we know a lot about what works to improve nutrition, including the fact that intervention must occur during the first 1,000 days of life or damage is irreversible. We also know that addressing nutrition is one of the most cost-effective investments available: for every $1 invested in nutrition, as much as $138 is generated in better health and productivity. 

    Last week, following the publishing of a new series on maternal and child nutrition in the medical journal The Lancet , governments, donors, non-profits, academia, and the private sector came together to focus on undernutrition at events in London and Washington, DC.  The events provided an opportunity for the United States and other participants to highlight existing and planned actions to address undernutrition.  US Agency for International Development Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah  highlighted the investments the US Government is making in nutrition as part of the Presidential Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives: over the three-year period of fiscal years 2012-2014, these investments total $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion for activities in other sectors that also improve nutrition.  

    The US and the UK governments also announced they are seeking partners to launch a Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative this fall to increase the quality, quantity, and timeliness of available data that can help support agriculture and nutrition efforts, and also increase the number and diversity of stakeholders who are applying data-based solutions to improve agriculture and nutrition.  This is an initiative that will be tremendously exciting – if you or your organization is interested in learning more, please visit the initiative website.

  • Innovators Address the Wage Gap with Apps and Open Data

    Last week, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act by President Kennedy, President Obama recognized innovators who have used open government data to build tools that address the wage gap.

    That gap has grown considerably smaller since the Kennedy era, but it has not disappeared. In 2011, for example, a typical 25 year-old woman working full-time, year-round, will have already earned $5,000 less than a typical 25 year-old man. If that woman were to face the same wage gap for each year going forward, then by age 35 she will have earned $33,600 less than a typical 35 year-old man. By age 65, that earnings gap will have ballooned to $389,300.