Commerce Wants To Help You Make Money From Federal Data

Peeradach Rattanakoses/

The department is looking for businesses to help government use data.

The federal government wants to go in on an open data venture with an outside group, and potentially split the profits. 

A Commerce Department agency is looking for new ways to use federal data in business, but also to improve the access to that information both by the public and private sectors. The National Technical Information Service is collecting proposals from companies, nonprofits and research organizations who think they can help Commerce do that. 

A successful partner might help create products or services based on federal data that businesses, government agencies and other groups could use. They may also bring private sector knowledge about how to manage data, according to NTIS' Federal Register posting

NTIS has framed the program as a "joint venture," meaning it requires investments from the selected partner but also "may provide a revenue-sharing opportunity." Partners must be able to fund their part of a project because of "federal accrual accounting practices," the notice said.

A 2014 Commerce report estimated federal data could "guide up to $3.3 trillion in investments in the United States annually," according to the notice. 

Proposals, due Aug. 1, should address new ways to:

  • Use data and data services, including combining it with nonfederal data; 
  • Share data, such as data discovery technology, visualization and data standards;
  • Interpret data in new ways, such as predictive analytics or geospatial analysis; and
  • Develop or use new technology that can benefit from that data, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and analytics

This project would eventually support programs related to big data, open data, smart cities and the internet of things, the posting said.