OMB rethinks ‘protected’ or ‘open’ data binary with upcoming Evidence Act guidance

Jory Heckman at Federal News Network: “The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act has ordered agencies to share their datasets internally and with other government partners — unless, of course, doing so would break the law.

Nearly a year after President Donald Trump signed the bill into law, agencies still have only a murky idea of what data they can share, and with whom. But soon, they’ll have more nuanced options of ranking the sensitivity of their datasets before sharing them out to others.

Chief Statistician Nancy Potok said the Office of Management and Budget will soon release proposed guidelines for agencies to provide “tiered” access to their data, based on the sensitivity of that information….

OMB, as part of its Evidence Act rollout, will also rethink how agencies ensure protected access to data for research. Potok said agency officials expect to pilot a single application governmentwide for people seeking access to sensitive data not available to the public.

The pilot resembles plans for a National Secure Data Service envisioned by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, an advisory group whose recommendations laid the groundwork for the Evidence Act.

“As a state-of-the-art resource for improving government’s capacity to use the data it already collects, the National Secure Data Service will be able to temporarily link existing data and provide secure access to those data for exclusively statistical purposes in connection with approved projects,” the commission wrote in its 2017 final report.

In an effort to strike a balance between access and privacy, Potok said OMB has also asked agencies to provide a list of the statutes that prohibit them from sharing data amongst themselves….(More)”.