By Denice Ross, U.S. Chief Data Scientist in the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Alex Hertel-Fernandez, Senior Equity Fellow in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
How can we provide more transparency on whether the communities that need Federal funds are receiving support? How can we empower low-income communities with the same knowledge as their wealthier neighbors to know whether their water is clean and safe to drink? How can government agencies use information on consumer complaints to better protect populations that are often targets of financial scams? And how can state governments and the Federal government share data on unemployment insurance to reduce obstacles workers with disabilities might encounter when applying for benefits?
The answers to these questions all require better access to data. In particular, they require access to information that comes not just from the Federal government, but from state and local governments and local communities. That’s why, as part of the President’s commitment to advancing equity for underserved communities, the Federal government launched a whole-of-government approach to improving access to equitable data. By equitable data, we mean data that can indicate how well government programs and policies serve different populations. In turn, that data can help to reveal existing barriers to more equitable social and economic outcomes for all Americans, including communities that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in all aspects of economic, social, and civic life.
To realize this vision, the Federal government needs to build stronger collaborations and relationships with state and local governments, local communities, and researchers. These collaborations can expand access to more data and build capacity in local communities to use data to hold government accountable for equitable outcomes. But we need your ideas and perspectives.
Through a public request for information over the next 30 days, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget are working together to seek input on how the Federal government can encourage equitable data collaborations between different levels of government, with communities and grassroots organizations, and with a broader range of researchers who have not worked with the Federal government before.
Some examples of the types of collaborations we’re hoping to encourage include the following:
- Learning sessions for community-based organizations on how to access and use federal data to help identify and address social and economic disparities facing their cities and towns
- Increased federal-state-local-Tribal-territorial data sharing to enable transparency about the characteristics of individuals served by social safety net programs delivered in partnership between different levels of government
- Resources for state governments to analyze workforce training and job quality data in partnership with Federal agencies and local communities to assess who is benefitting from training programs and who is left behind
- Expanded opportunities for under-represented researchers to access and analyze restricted-use data in order to assess the equity of government programs and policies, such as disaster housing assistance, public student loan forgiveness, or unemployment benefits
- Equipment loans and training so that community members can collect local environmental health data and share that data with environmental protection agencies
We’ll use the responses we receive through this request for information to help produce case studies, share best practices, and explore new approaches that Federal agencies, state, Tribal, territorial, and local governments, communities, and researchers can take to advance equitable data partnerships and collaborations.
We’re interested in responses to the following questions in particular:
- What are examples of successful collaborations between the Federal government and (a) Tribal, territorial, local, and State governments or (b) local communities involving equitable data?
- Among examples of existing Federal collaborations with (a) Tribal, territorial, local, and State governments or (b) local communities involving equitable data, what lessons or best practices have been learned from such collaborations?
- What policies, resources, programs, training, or other tools can facilitate increased data sharing between different levels of government (Tribal, territorial, local, State, or Federal) around equitable data?
- What policies, resources, programs, training, or other tools can expand opportunities for historically underrepresented scholars and research institutions to access and use equitable data across levels of government?
- What policies, resources, programs, training, or tools can increase opportunities for community-based organizations to use equitable data to hold government accountable to the American public?
- What policies, resources, programs, training, or tools can make equitable data more accessible and useable for members of the public?
- In which agencies, programs, regions, or communities are there unmet needs, broken processes, or problems around participation and accountability that could be remedied through stronger collaborations and transparency around equitable data?
Members of the public interested in providing their views on these questions are encouraged to submit responses to the request for information over the next 30 days. You can also email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Advancing equity for all Americans requires new data and new ways of sharing that data: to understand who we’re reaching and serving, who we are missing, and how we might design new actions to expand opportunity and address inequities. The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget are eager to hear from you and learn how we can empower more communities to use, produce, and ultimately act on that data.