Think tank appoints team of execs to school D.C. on big data


The U.S. government is investing billions of dollars in big data technologies and research, and now it has a team of industry executives ready and willing to share their views on how it can best transition into a data-driven institution. The TechAmerica Foundation, a think tank focused on advising policymakers on emerging technologies, has appointed a big data commission that aims to “examine the issue and provide guidance on how to leverage ‘Big Data’ to address the most pressing issues facing government as well as drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness,” according to the foundation.

There certainly are numerous avenues for the government to take advantage of big data, so hopefully the TechAmerica commission will be able to offer some meaningful advice when it develops its first report over the next several months. The obvious benefits from government big data adoption range from standardized data practices to improved decision-making to more-accurate intelligence, but how the government regulates broader issues such as privacy also will have a major impact on the data-driven economy as a whole.

I’m generally skeptical of anyone from the IT industry trying to influence government action on technology topics because the government spends so much money on IT, and thus, the temptation to pimp one’s own tools has to be immense. However, when I spoke with Citrix’s Kurt Roemer last year after TechAmerica’s cloud computing commission kicked off its work, he assured me the presence of so many competing interests on such commissions helps prevent against any one vendor grandstanding or trying to push its own agenda. Indeed, Roemer’s cloud-focused commission, which was co-chaired by CEO Marc Benioff, released a rather insightful report on how the Congress should address cloud computing as a tool to both increase the government’s efficiency, and drive U.S. economic competitiveness.

The TechAmerica big data commission is co-chaired by IBM’s Steve Mills and SAP’s Steve Lucas, with vice chairs from Amazon and WYLE. Among its almost two dozen commissioners are Cloudera CEO Mike Olson, Dell cloud and big data head John Igoe, Microsoft Information Services CTO Raghu Ramakrishnan and Lockheed Martin CTO Richard Johnson.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock user Orhan Cam.

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