Big data and analytics are the key to finding savings within agencies, improving public programs and providing services to citizens, according to experts at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Bethesda’s Big Data Technology Symposium held Jan. 14.
“There is a tremendous use of data and connectedness to guard public safety [at the Transportation Department], said Richard McKinney, chief information officer at DOT.
At the center of the data analytics push is the Office of Management and Budget, which is asking agencies to paint a picture with the data they are collecting to improve government operations.
“Government led the way when it comes to big data, but we are not leading the way in knowing how we as a government operate,” said Dominic Sale, chief of data analytics and reporting at OMB.
Agencies are doing this in a number of ways. The Veterans Health Administration is collecting data from its multitude of hospitals, rehab centers and clinics in everything from veteran pharmacy fills to patient symptoms.
“Connected for us really is a life cycle,” said Kathleen Turco, chief financial officer at VHA. “We are bringing together the care [veterans] need and the IT supporting it.”
DOT is painting its picture in part by connecting vehicles to infrastructure and other vehicles.
If a car slips on ice, it realizes it is on ice and communicates that to the road, which, in turn, communicates the information to other vehicles, McKinney explained.
McKinney and Turco expressed an increase in shared services between agencies is needed in government to optimize big data.
OMB has begun this process through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, a standardized IT security assessment.
“[FedRAMP] is about building trust in cloud environments,” Sale said.
Still, agencies are reluctant to move to share services because it is complex and many platforms do not mesh properly, he said.