Achieving full transparency and accountability for Recovery act stimulus funds is a delicate data driven effort that requires careful deliberate implementation. To accomplish the goals of this initiative—to collect and present data associated with stimulus funding in order to make it easy and useful for anyone to track the funds and impact of recovery, all in a transparent and collaborative fashion—requires the right technology, processes, and approach to ensure the successful data sharing and collaborative partnership between public and private sector necessary for national economic recovery.
Why is it important?
The following six data-centric principles establish a foundation of transparency and collaboration necessary to forge a private/public sector partnership that achieves the goals of the historic Economic Recovery Act.
In short, the solution for recovery.gov requires that Recovery Data be:
1. Easily Collectible. Given the breadth of purposes for stimulus funds and the number of government agencies, partners, vendors, organizations and individuals involved, to ensure successful rapid delivery of a data management solution, recovery.gov must implement a solution that allows for the automated collection, reporting, and organization of data from the widest range sources (e.g., as systems, databases, mainframes, flat files), interfaces (e.g., web-services, EDI) and formats (Excel, XML) possible without costly custom coding or integration. Additionally, cloud hosted services could provide an effective scalable cost competitive approach for handling source data files coming from hundreds or even thousands of organizations for loading into persistent storage areas such as Operational Data Stores, Enterprise Data Warehouses, or Data Marts or staging areas. In short, given today’s technology, connectivity and handling of data in various existing data sources and formats should not be an impediment for organizations providing data to recovery.gov.
2. High Quality. As learned by hundreds of companies and organizations over the last decade, accessibility of data is not enough. Data must be consistent, complete, and clean (error free) to be useful. While practically "perfect data" does not exist, the Recovery Team can ensure Recovery Data remains meaningful through development of a data governance program that establishes standards and accountability for maintaining effective data quality for submitted data, and implementation supporting automated tools and processes that will help identify and resolve data quality issues in collaboration with data providers and stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
3. Presentation Agnostic. Integration costs and associated code maintenance are rapidly becoming one of the most expensive aspects of data system maintenance. To ensure the recovery.gov solution remains low maintenance and low cost, the Recovery Team needs a solution that makes Recovery Data easy to access, analyze and use. Consistent with industry best practices, data should be separated (e.g. via a data warehouse or data marts) and managed independent of presentation and application logic. This separation when coupled with standard integration interfaces should allow Recovery Data to be accessed and used by a wide range of tools, systems and technologies. For example, the solution could support presentation of canned reports via the recovery.org site, provide standard web search interfaces, integrate with business intelligence tools for reports and trend analysis, and interoperate with data mining tools to support robust monitoring by regulators and law enforcement, to name a few.
4. Web Accessible / Mashable. The Recovery Team can provide significant capabilities at minimal cost by harnessing the power of the private sector. As proven by recent Internet developments, Web 2.0 sites have already proven the significant advantages of open access to data sources. By providing data feeds that make Recovery information accessible and retrievable by external web-services, the Recovery team can harness the creative power of the private sector by allowing developers to create a host of value-added applications. Just as internet site zillow.com has created a valuable service by combining existing public records, Real Estate information, and Microsoft map data, enterprising individuals and organizations in both the public and private sector will be able to harness recovery data to create applications that track the usage of government funds and assess the impact of recovery efforts, thereby providing tremendous value at minimal cost to the Recovery Team.
5. Highly Reliable, Always Available. Few things pose a greater risk to the appearance and promise of transparency than downtime or other technical issues that prevent interested parties from consistently and reliably accessing Recovery Data. While superficially, system outages, even for short periods, may seem innocuous, in the global court of public opinion, such outages can lead to a perceived lack of openness, or even incompetence. To prevent such misperceptions, and ensure consistent access to government data, the Recovery Team must provide a highly available environment proven capable of scaling to provide uninterrupted support for all of recovery.gov’s data collection and dissemination efforts. Additionally, for web applications to work, developers creating mashable sites will require similar consistent always-on real-time access to Recovery Data.
6. Verifiable and Auditable. Beyond effective management and accessibility of data, ensuring that economic recovery funds are appropriately spent requires that data consumers (such as regulators, the media, and law enforcement) be able to determine where the data originated, who provided it, and when it was received. By implementing metadata management tools that leverage existing metadata from systems submitting data, the recovery team can simplify data tracking by automating much of this typically onerous but highly critical regulatory process.
Informatica is a leading provider of enterprise data integration software and services. With Informatica, organizations can gain greater business value by integrating all their information assets from across the enterprise. Used by hundreds of successful very large organizations worldwide, Informatica’s data integration platform combines industry leading tools with the unmatched ease of use needed to rapidly address the full range of organizations’ data integration challenges.