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Data Coalition and Data Foundation Name New Leader

Nick Hart will lead both organizations. He brings a robust open data resume that includes serving at the White House Office of Management and Budget as a senior analyst and special assistant.

The Data Coalition and Data Foundation — which are open data groups with separate functions, one being advocacy and the other essentially as a think tank — have named a shared leader in Nick Hart.

Hart will serve as CEO for the Data Coalition and interim president for the Data Foundation. He comes to those new roles, as one might expect, with a long track record working at the intersection of government and open data.

Most recently, Hart served as director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Evidence Project, which aims to advise federal policymakers as they work to entrench evidence-driven governance in their work. Hart said during a recent phone interview that work was built upon the time he spent as the policy and research director of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. In that role, he helped lead the creation of The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking report, which was given to the White House and Congress in 2017.

“I would say much of my work over the last three or four years was on the central theme of government better using data,” Hart said.

Prior to that, Hart also worked at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, where he helped shape a range of policies.

It all adds up to at least a decade in the government data space.

Hart said it was his passion for this work that attracted him to his new role leading the Data Coalition and the Data Foundation.

“Over the past five years, it is safe to say the Data Coalition built a really strong advocacy network for improving government’s data structure, focused primarily on open data issues,” he said. “There’s a [really] incredible opportunity for growth and leadership going forward, and I think that’s especially true as we increasingly recognize the importance of how open data, data quality, data accessibility, data infrastructure — the issues that underlie each of those topics are really pervasive across every policy domain in government.”

Indeed, the Data Coalition’s advocacy work supports both public and private interests by promoting things like legislative and regulatory mandates for data standardization, data publication, and education about the benefits of data transparency. It is a nonprofit group, based out of Washington, D.C., and managed by a board of directors.

It’s also tightly connected to the other organization Hart will now be leading, the Data Foundation, which is more of a think tank that conducts nonpartisan research, education and programming. The foundation is essentially focused on three areas: how the government can use data for the public good, how to modernize compliance data, and how private-sector data can also improve both business and society.  

Moving forward, Hart described the groups’ priorities as varied, noting that some will be built on the past successes of the Data Coalition, including their work around the Data Act or, more recently, the effort to get the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act enacted, which included a piece of legislation called the OPEN Government Data Act.

“One clear priority is recognizing that it’s one thing to get legislation in place,” Hart said, “and it’s another to make sure something actually happens.”

Hart replaces Hudson Hollister, who founded both groups and departed from both roles last year.

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