TechAmerica Foundation : Demystifying Big Data: Industry Leaders Release Comprehensive Report on Big Data in Government

Demystifying Big Data: Industry Leaders Release Comprehensive Report on Big Data in Government

Washington, DC The key to seizing on the Big Data opportunity in government lies in educating and training the federal workforce around analytics and data science, according to a new report released today by the TechAmerica Foundation’s Big Data Commission. The report, “Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide to Transforming the Business of Government,” provides the government with a comprehensive roadmap to using Big Data to better serve the American people.

Developed with extensive input from industry, government and academic leaders, this comprehensive and first-of-its-kind report defines key terms; explains the underlying technology in simple terms; and identifies best practices and lessons learned from early efforts.  The report also offers a set of policy recommendations and practical steps agencies can take to get started on Big Data initiatives. 

The commission report emphasizes that while the impact of Big Data may be more powerful than that of the Internet itself, the transition to becoming “Big Data capable” will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

“Data is one of our most valuable emerging natural resources.   The implications of capturing value from big data are limitless for making business, the global economy and our society work better.   That’s why it’s critical that our country prepares a new generation of experts who know how to corral today’s data deluge for world-changing insights,” says commission co-chair Steve Mills, Senior Vice President and Group Executive at IBM.  “With the right technology and skills,  together with our government,  we can better address issues from health care to public safety to fraud detection, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for our country and citizens.”

“The evidence shows the U.S. Government can extract enormous value from Big Data, for the benefit of all citizens,” says commission co-chair Steve Lucas, Global Executive Vice President and General Manager, Database & Technology at SAP. “Imagine a world where a growing number of elderly and sick people receive better healthcare outcomes at lower costs; where there is reduced congestion on the roads due to real time insight into traffic patterns and events or greater accuracy in prediction of severe weather events. The challenge lies in capturing, managing, and analyzing enormous data streams to extract those relevant insights.”

With the Administration’s announcement last spring of a $200 million Big Data research and development initiative, it is clear that the government also recognizes the challenges and opportunities of Big Data.

Complementing the practical roadmap for agencies are key recommendations, including:

  • Work with What We Have: Augment current IT investments — rather than build entirely new enterprise-scale systems – for a low-risk approach.
  • Double Down on Collaboration: Promote data sharing and monetization of Big Data solutions across agencies.   Enhance collaboration across agencies by naming a single official both across government and within each agency to bring focus and discipline to the Big Data challenge.
  • Invest in R&D:  Continue research and development of advanced computing technologies that can effectively process not only the vast amounts of data being continually generated but also the various types. Develop applications for key government priorities such as education, fraud and abuse, cybersecurity, healthcare and public safety.
  • Focus on Skills:  Strengthen and expand public-private partnerships to invest in skills-building initiatives for the federal workforce in the area of Big Data. These should include formal career tracks for IT managers; an IT Leadership Academy to provide Big Data and related training and certification; data-intensive degree programs; and scholarships to prepare a new generation of data scientists.

“The Big Data commission is another example of the power to create change when the technology industry and government work hand-in-hand,” said Jennifer Kerber, President of the TechAmerica Foundation. “Big Data has the power to transform how government delivers services to citizens and it is one of the many new tools available to enhance our daily lives.  ”

Serving as vice chairs of the commission are Teresa Carlson, Vice President Global Public Sector at Amazon Web Services; and Bill Perlowitz, Chief Technology Officer, Science, Technology and Engineering Group, Wyle.

Serving as the Academic Co-Chairs are Dr. Michael Rappa, founding director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University and principal architect of its Master of Science in Analytics degree; and Dr. Leo Irakliotis, Dean and National Director for the College of Information Technology at Western Governors University.

The full Commission report can be found here.

The full list of Commissioners can be found here.

For more information on the Commission, visit:


Quotes from Commission Leadership

Bill Perlowitz, Commission Vice-Chair & Chief Technology Officer, Science, Technology and Engineering Group, Wyle

“Within five years, we will create more digital content than we have created since the beginning of human record keeping. This report heralds the understanding that data is as important to the U.S. economy as agricultural products and capital goods, and provides the industry-tested roadmap to improve Government performance while stimulating billions of dollars of economic activity.”

Dr. Michael Rappa, Commission Academic Co-Chair, Director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics and Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University

“The value of big data lies in our ability to extract insights and make better decisions. The acute shortage of analytics professionals and data-savvy managers will be addressed most successfully through creative partnerships between industry, government and universities. There are several efforts underway, but we must intensify and accelerate the national investment in proven models.”

Dr. Leo Irakliotis, Commission Academic Co-Chair, Dean and National Director for the College of Information Technology at Western Governors University

“The emergence and prevalence of big data creates a pressing need for well trained professionals at all levels. I am excited that our Commission looks at professional competences, scalable training programs and closer ties between industry and academia as a critical direction in developing a competent workforce. And I am looking forward to continuing the Commission’s work in collaboration with TechAmerica and other leaders in the field of Big Data.”