New Digital Government Strategy Makes Information More Useful and Dynamic
By Frank Baitman, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Health and Human Services Department
Originally posted on July 10, 2012
On May 25, 2012 the U.S. Chief Information Officer, Steve VanRoekel issued the next building block of facilitating federal IT, the Digital Government Strategy for the US Government. It sets a bold vision for the use of IT – both to provide citizen centered services and to enable the federal workforce with modern technology.
The Digital Government Strategy is building on an already extensive foundation that aims to deliver better technology, data and insights for less money. The Strategy embraces a new way of doing business enabling modern technology and information to better serve the public.
The Digital Government Strategy recognizes one of the unique characteristics of information technology: more can be done for less money. Few would argue that the federal government can and should be doing more, and offering better services, for the estimated $80 billion we spend annually on technology; indeed, the foundation of IT reforms illustrates the many opportunities for improvement.
The Strategy is unique among the foundational reforms: instead of focusing on processes to improve IT, it focuses on outcomes. There are 3 simple goals:
- Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile federal workforce to access information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device;
- Deliver digital services, such as providing access to an individual’s Medicare account, to the American people smartly, securely, and affordable; and
- Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation.
Realizing the objectives of the Digital Government Strategy will ultimately improve the quality of services available to the American people and advance each of the Department of Health and Human Service’s strategic goals:
- Strengthen Health Care
- Advance Scientific Knowledge and Innovation
- Advance the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of the American People
- Increase Efficiency, Transparency, and Accountability of HHS Programs
- Strengthen the Nation's Health and Human Services Infrastructure and Workforce
The Strategy’s “Information-Centric” approach will “free the data” and increase the liquidity of information. HHS has already experienced the power of data liquidity with Open Gov initiatives. For example, HealthData.gov is a one-stop resource for the growing ecosystem of innovators who are turning data into new applications, services, and insights that can help improve health and health care. As a “Shared First” project, HealthData.Gov has been re-released as HealthData v2, a full scale collaborative service around health dataset management, commentary and access. HealthData v2 includes community collaboration capabilities; the dynamic ability to create and maintain content without intermediaries; user commentary and ranking for datasets; secure workflow for dataset submission and approval; the capability to directly host datasets; advanced faceted search; and semantic and linked data capabilities to provide an integrated workplace and community for collaboration around health related data.
But we need to move beyond data liquidity to information liquidity. We are looking to increase the value of program and content data by having information on HHS’s websites tagged in a way that make it available for use by machines.
As we have done with Open Government, we will be asking for HHS employee and public input and sharing our progress on the digital strategy web site. We will mark our progress by our accomplishments – over the next 6 – 12 months we plan to:
- Engage with customers to identify at least two existing major customer-facing services that contain high-value data or content as first-move candidates to make compliant with new open data, content, and web API policy;
- Make high-value data and content in at least two existing major customer-facing systems available through web APIs, apply metadata tagging and publish a plan to transition additional high-value systems;
- Optimize at least two existing priority customer-facing services for mobile use and publish a plan for improving additional existing services
- Develop models for the delivery of commercial mobile applications into the federal environment; and
- Optimize at least two existing priority customer-facing services for mobile use and publish a plan for improving additional existing services.
HHS is rapidly adapting to the new digital world and is fully embracing the Digital Government Strategy’s objectives. With HHS harnessing the potential of the digital world, the Department is laser-focused on enhancing the well-being of the American people.