Prioritizing Open Science in the Next Administration

During the last eight years, the Obama Administration has embodied this year’s theme of “Open in Action.” The president and his team came into office with a strong public commitment to open government, and have demonstrated a commitment to open science as part of that agenda. As we approach the 2016 presidential election, the Center for Open Data Enterprise, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, is working to ensure that open science remains a priority for the next administration.

In any U.S. presidential transition, outside experts and stakeholders play an important advisory role. Their expertise is especially critical when technical or scientific issues are involved. The Center conferred with over 50 experts to develop an Open Data Transition Report, with 27 recommendations designed to be of value to the next president, his or her transition teams, and government agencies and departments in the next administration. The recommendations are meant to advance the goal of “Open in Action”: they are all designed to make an impact within the administration’s first year, and many can be accomplished in the first 100 days.

The report’s recommendations are targeted to four key goals:

Goal I: Enhance the government open data ecosystem - The next administration should enhance the open data ecosystem by developing a strong data infrastructure across government, including appropriate personnel, policies, and coordination efforts.

Goal II: Deliver direct benefits to citizens and communities - The next administration should identify the major challenges impacting American communities and leverage open data to address them.

Goal III: Share scientific research data to spur innovation and scientific discovery - Working with the research community, the next administration should develop policy and technology solutions to make open, shared research data the norm.

Goal IV: Help businesses and entrepreneurs use government data as a resource - The next administration should help businesses by making it easier to access valuable government data and simpler to report data to regulatory agencies.

Goal III includes a series of recommendations that promote open science and open data access for academic institutions, researchers and scientists, and students. By ensuring research data is open and reusable, the scientific community can more easily validate existing research, build off of one another’s findings, and drive new discoveries. A brief preview of the six research data recommendations in the report is listed below.

Within the first 100 days:

  • Establish a Federal Research Data Council to expand current cross-government efforts to promote open science, foster new government open research initiatives, and partner with research institutions to support data sharing and collaboration. Read more.

  • Develop an Annual Research Data Census to provide public, searchable information on federally funded research data, their characteristics, and stewardship environments and serve as a resource to the scientific community. Read more.

  • Coordinate agency efforts to identify and prioritize high-value open government research datasets that would benefit the research community through data cloud storage. Read more.

  • Work with major research organizations, scientific publications, and professional associations to work toward requiring researchers to share high-quality, reusable data underlying scientific publications at the time of publication. Read more.

Within the first year:

  • Partner with research communities around the world to establish international standards across disciplines and organizations focused on Arctic research building on the momentum from the White House Arctic Science Ministerial. Read more.

  • Identify and publish key government datasets that can be opened up for use in machine learning to support advances in artificial intelligence across all fields. Read more.

The full collection of recommendations demonstrate how the next administration can achieve policy and programmatic gains for each of the key beneficiaries of open data policy: government, citizens and communities, research, and businesses. We invite you to read the full report at opendataenterprise.org/transition-report.

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