A small but growing collection of companies has
formed a coalition that will push the federal government to
establish a standard system by which agencies categorize their
Today's official opening of the District-based Data Transparency
Coalition rides on the heels of the Obama
administration's announcement last month that six agencies
will commit $200 million to projects that help them better analyze
And as the government looks to scale back its
spending in other areas, some companies are already eyeing the
administration's emphasis on "big data" as
a potential new line of business.
"Our members understand that if the government
identified its data elements in consistent ways, there would be
vast new opportunities for the tools that they are building,"
Executive Director Hudson Hollister said.
Multiple methods of classifying information can make
it tricky for companies to build software that pulls data from
different agencies and compares such information as spending,
contract awards and regulations.
Among the coalition's top priorities will be
advocating for the passage of the Digital Accountability and
Transparency Act, legislation that Hollister helped craft as former
counsel to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
He left the post in January.
"Both members of Congress and the executive branch
need to understand that because the federal government is the
world's largest producer and consumer of data, it ought to manage
its data," Hollister said.
The coalition's members to date include Microsoft, as
well as a several data analysis and management firms, including
Level One Technologies, Teradata and BrightScope.
Its advisory board includes Earl Devaney, the former
chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and
Beth Noveck, the former U.S. deputy chief technology officer.
"For years people in the executive branch have been
talking about e-government and big data," Hollister said. "Those
two phrases have become buzz words. The standardization of federal
data is what's needed to make both concepts work."
H.I.G. BioVentures, a Miami-based health care
investor with directors in the Washington region, closed on a $268
million fund that could bring much needed capital to cash-strapped
Investments in life sciences companies slowed during
the economic slump even more than other industries because the
firms often require larger amounts of money and time before they
bring a product to market.
Bruce Robertson, a managing partner based in
confirmed last July that the firm was in the midst
of raising money, though he declined to specify on the
size of the fund at the time.
Last week's announcement shows the firm surpassed its
stated goal of $250 million. The financial backers include public
and private pension funds, foundations, funds of funds and large
private family wealth managers, according to a news release.
H.I.G. BioVentures is led by Robertson, as well as
managing directors Aaron Davidson and Michael Wasserman.