White House looks to government and community data collaboration to promote equity

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The administration wants to hear how best to encourage collaborations that facilitate producing, accessing and using equitable data.

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is trying to advance equity through government and community data partnerships, according to a blog post from last week. The federal government plans to use this information to evaluate a variety of issues, such as providing more transparency on whether the communities that need federal funds are receiving support. 

OSTP noted that better access to data from federal, state and local governments, as well as local communities, will help it provide for underserved communities in line with President Joe Biden’s January 2021 executive order. As a result, the administration is seeking to improve access to equitable data—or “data that can indicate how well government programs and policies serve different populations”—and to use this data to highlight current “barriers to more equitable social and economic outcomes.” 

As part of this effort, the federal government is looking to collaborate and strengthen relationships with state and local governments, local communities and researchers to “expand access to more data and build capacity in local communities to use data to hold government accountable for equitable outcomes.”

“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 announcement said.

For example, OSTP in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget, is looking to have the following types of collaborations: conducting learning sessions with community-based organizations; increasing data sharing across different levels of government; providing resources for state and local governments; increasing opportunities for underrepresented researchers; and providing training and loaning equipment to collect and share this data.

OSTP and OMB provided seven questions for the public to comment on, including: examples of successful collaborations with equitable data; examples of current collaborations and the lessons or best practices to learn from these collaborations; and agencies, programs, regions or communities that have unmet needs, broken processes or issues around participation and accountability that could be addressed with stronger collaborations and transparency through equitable data. 

The agencies also want to know what policies, resources, programs, training or other tools and resources can: increase sharing equitable data between different government levels; increase opportunities for historically underrepresented scholars and research institutions to access and use this type of data; increase opportunities for community-based organizations to use equitable data for government accountability; and make equitable data more accessible and easy-to-use for the public. 

OSTP and OMB are seeking public input through Oct. 3 about how the government can bolster equitable data collaborations.

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