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Key Federal Smart Disclosure Resources


Smart Disclosure and Consumer Decision Making: Report of the Task Force on Smart Disclosure


The first comprehensive description of smart disclosure approaches being used across the Federal Government. The report provides an overview of the ways in which smart disclosure can empower consumers and increase market transparency; describes smart disclosure activities being undertaken by Federal agencies and partners; provides context about government policies that guide and support those activities; and presents examples of concrete steps already being taken by Federal agencies to advance smart disclosure in domains such as health, education, energy, finance, and public safety.



Summit on Smart Disclosure


On March 30, 2012, the White House and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), with support from ideas42, hosted a summit on Smart Disclosure – a new tool that helps provide consumers with greater access to the information they need to make informed choices. Click here for agenda.


US.National Action Plan on Open Government


Excerpted commitment on Smart Disclosure: “Promote Smart Disclosure. The government already discloses data to inform decision-making in many areas by, for example, providing access to comprehensive tools to facilitate the search for insurance options best suited to an individual’s specific needs. To build on this work, OMB recently issued guidance to Federal agencies on ‘Smart Disclosure.’ We have also established a task force dedicated to promoting better disclosure policies. In response to this guidance, agencies and departments will work over the next year to ensure the timely release of complex information in standardized, machine-readable formats that enable consumers to make informed decisions in numerous domains.”


Informing Consumers through Smart Disclosure


“The purpose of this Memorandum is to set out guidance for agencies to inform and facilitate the use of disclosure, specifically ‘smart disclosure.’ As used here, the term ‘smart disclosure’ refers to the timely release of complex information and data in standardized, machine readable formats in ways that enable consumers to make informed decisions. Smart disclosure will typically take the form of providing individual consumers of goods and services with direct access to relevant information and data sets. Such information might involve, for example, the range of costs associated with various products and services, including costs that might not otherwise be transparent. In some cases, agencies or third-party intermediaries may also create tools that use these data sets to provide services that support consumer decision-making. Such decision-making might be improved, for example, by informing consumers about the nature and effects of their own past decisions (including, for example, the costs and fees they have already incurred).”


Task Force on Smart Disclosure Charter


“The Task Force on Smart Disclosure: Information and Efficiency in Consumer Markets (TFSD) is hereby established by action of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), Committee on Technology (CoT). The TFSD will recommend approaches that federal entities can take to facilitate the ‘Smart Disclosure’ of data about consumer markets.”


Smart Disclosure in the Press

Note: This section does not include coverage of individual Smart Disclosure initiatives.



White House Summit Cranks up Push to Better Inform the Public

By Charles S. Clark | 4/2/2012

“An all-day summit on a White House consumer awareness effort held on Friday in the National Archives and Records Administration auditorium is being called a success by the agency, academic and nonprofit sector representatives who attended the closed-to-the-press meeting.”


What is Smart Disclosure?: ‘Choice Engines’ are Helping Consumers Make Smarter Decisions Through Personal and Government Data.”

By Alex Howard | 4/1/2012

“Citizens generate an enormous amount of economically valuable data through interactions with companies and government. Earlier this year, a report from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey Consulting described the emergence of ‘personal data as a new asset class.’ The value created from such data does not, however, always go to the benefit of consumers, particularly when third parties collect it, separating people from their personal data. “The emergence of new technologies and government policies has provided an opportunity to both empower consumers and create new markets from ‘smarter disclosure’ of this personal data. Smart disclosure is when a private company or government agency provides a person with periodic access to his or her own data in open formats that enable them to easily put the data to use. Specifically, smart disclosure refers to the timely release of data in standardized, machine-readable formats in ways that enable consumers to make better decisions about finance, healthcare, energy or in other contexts.”


Privacy? Here’s How Data Mining Might Actually Help Consumers

By Dan Kadlec | 3/6/2012

“With so much concern over privacy in the digital world, it’s worth noting how the careful disclosure of consumer data might actually help. This is especially true in the area of personal finance, where the newly minted federal Task Force on Smart Disclosure seems to be digging in…. [T]here is no question that smart disclosure of financial data has the potential to push the nation’s financial education effort forward by a quantum leap.”


Paddling Upstream: Financial Services’ Kayak.com

By Arjan Schutte | 10/29/2011

“The federal government is pushing something they call ‘smart disclosure.’ It’s a future-forward idea that will make consumers smarter and markets more efficient. Imagine, for example, a Kayak.com for all our financial services.”


This Data Isn’t Dull. It Improves Lives.”

By Richard H. Thaler | 3/12/2011

“Governments have learned a cheap new way to improve people’s lives. Here is the basic recipe: Take data that you and I have already paid a government agency to collect, and post it online in a way that computer programmers can easily use. Then wait a few months. Voilà! The private sector gets busy, creating Web sites and smartphone apps that reformat the information in ways that are helpful to consumers, workers and companies.”


External Resources


Smarter Information, Smarter Consumers

By Richard H. Thaler and Will Tucker | 1/2013

“We believe, though, that a potent mix of modern technology and new government policy is about to transform disclosure—and with it the workings of many parts of the economy. Increasingly, government-owned data and private-company disclosures will be made available in machine-readable formats, spurring the growth of new services we call “choice engines”—technologies that interpret this data.”


Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity


“The amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analyzing large data sets–so-called big data–will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus, according to research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office. Leaders in every sector will have to grapple with the implications of big data, not just a few data-oriented managers. The increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet of Things will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future.”


Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class


“Personal data is becoming a new economic ‘asset class’, a valuable resource for the 21st century that will touch all aspects of society. This report finds that, to unlock the full potential of personal data, a balanced ecosystem with increased trust between individuals, government and the private sector is necessary.”

International Resources


Announcement of the “Midata” Vision of Consumer Empowerment


“The Government has announced a ground-breaking partnership with 26 organizations to deliver a new era of consumer empowerment. The businesses, consumer bodies and regulators involved are all committed to working with Government to achieve its vision for midata, launched today. And all are endorsing the key principle that data should be released back to consumers. Midata is a voluntary programme the Government is undertaking with industry, which over time will give consumers increasing access to their personal data in a portable, electronic format.”

UK Consumer Empowerment Strategy: Better Choices, Better Deals Report


“The strategy sets out what Government and others can do to help increase consumer power in a rapidly changing and demanding economy. It aims to put consumers in charge so that they are better able to get the best deals for themselves, individually and collectively. It also looks at ways of helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged who may not otherwise benefit from rapid technological and social change. An innovative non-regulatory approach, working in partnership with businesses, consumer groups and third sector bodies, it will contribute to economic growth by putting information and influence into the hands of consumers.”

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