Smart Disclosure Policy Resources

Explore federal reports and guidance, press coverage, research, and international resources about smart disclosure.

Federal Smart Disclosure Resources

An Introduction to Smart Disclosure Policy | “Today’s consumers face complex choices, whether they are searching for colleges, health insurance, credit cards, airline flights, or energy providers. It takes time and energy for consumers to seek out the best deal. Too often, the effort to sift through all the relevant information is so great that consumers choose in the dark—and then pay the price. They may overpay, miss out on a better product, or find themselves surprised by hidden fees….”

White House Task Force on Smart Disclosure: Smart Disclosure and Consumer Decision Making: Report of the Task Force on Smart Disclosure | (5/2013) | 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.

White House & National Archives: Summit on Smart Disclosure | 3/30/2012 | 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.

White House: US.National Action Plan on Open Government | 9/20/2011 | 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.”

White House: Opening Remarks by President Obama on Open Government Partnership | 9/20/2011 | “Among our commitments, we’re launching a new online tool—called “We the People”—to allow Americans to directly petition the White House, and we’ll share that technology so any government in the world can enable its citizens to do the same. We’ve develop new tools—called “smart disclosures”—so that the data we make public can help people make health care choices, help small businesses innovate, and help scientists achieve new breakthroughs.”

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA): Informing Consumers through Smart Disclosure | 9/8/2011 | “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).”

National Science and Technology Council (NSTC): Task Force on Smart Disclosure Charter | 7/2011 | “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 News

Data Transparency Coalition: Investors ask SEC to Commit to “Smart Disclosure”: Replace Documents with Machine-Readable Formats | 7/30/2013 | “On July 25th the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee, a formal advisory body established in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank financial reform, recommended that the SEC adopt machine-readable data tagging formats, such as XBRL, for the information it collects under the securities laws. Under section 911 of Dodd-Frank, the SEC must ‘promptly’ issue a formal response.”

New York Times: A Chance to Make Mortgage Shopping Easier | By Richard Thaler | 8/19/2013 | “The bureau’s goals should be to make mortgage shopping easier and more efficient, and to make the industry more transparent and competitive, all while reducing the kinds of bad loans that helped create the financial crisis…. The move would be in keeping with the Obama administration’s ‘smart disclosure’ initiative ‘to expand consumers’ access to data that helps them make better informed decisions.’ And it wouldn’t impose significant additional costs on lenders because the regulation already wisely requires lenders to keep records of the loan estimate forms in an ‘electronic, machine-readable format’ to demonstrate compliance.”

Government Executive: Better Decisions Through Smart Disclosure | By Gadi Ben-Yehuda | 7/12/2013 | “Access to data has been WD40 to the wheels of the US economy…. A new report by the National Science and Technology Council, ‘Smart Disclosure and Consumer Decision Making: Report of the Task Force on Smart Disclosure,’ outlines the benefits of opening data stores (“Smart Disclosure”) to consumers and then details the actions various government agencies have been undertaking to realize those benefits.”

Mashable: 7 Ways Companies Are Using the Government’s Open Data | By Alex Fitzpatrick | 5/30/2013 | “When President Barack Obama signed a new open data initiative earlier this month, he argued that providing government data to entrepreneurs enables them to create new businesses and strengthen the economy…. What kinds of businesses are being built with open data? A report from a White House task force on open data and ‘smart disclosure’ released Wednesday highlights several commercial and non-profit operations built around open data.”

Fedscoop: How Data Liberation Helps Both Economy and Society | By Kathryn Sadasivan | May 30, 2013 | “Whether you are buying a plane ticket, searching for energy providers or determining where to begin your college education, making market decisions can be complex and overwhelming. The good news—government is working to disclose information that can help you buy smarter, and a new report proves this…. The National Science and Technology Council released today the first comprehensive report on the federal government’s efforts to support the smart disclosure of marketplace information.”

Government Executive: 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.”

O’Reilly Radar: 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.”

Time Magazine – Moneyland: 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.”

Forbes: 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.”

The New York Times: 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.”

Research and Other Resources

McKinsey & Company: Open Data: Unlocking Innovation and Performance with Liquid Information | 10/2013 | “Open data—machine-readable information, particularly government data, that’s made available to others—has generated a great deal of excitement around the world for its potential to empower citizens, change how government works, and improve the delivery of public services…. Our research suggests that seven sectors alone could generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value as a result of open data, which is already giving rise to hundreds of entrepreneurial businesses and helping established companies to segment markets, define new products and services, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.”

Code for America: Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation | 10/2013 | “The rise of open data in the public sector has sparked innovation, driven efficiency, and fueled economic development. And in the vein of high-profile federal initiatives like Data.gov and the White House’s Open Government Initiative, more and more local governments are making their foray into the field with Chief Data Officers, open data policies, and open data catalogs.”

The Proceedings of the 14Th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research: Understanding Smart Data Disclosure Policy Success: The Case of Green Button | By Djoko Sigit Sayogo and Theresa A. Pardo | 6/2013 | “Open data policies are expected to promote innovations that stimulate social, political and economic change. In pursuit of innovation potential, open data has expanded to wider environment involving government, business and citizens. The US government recently launched such collaboration through a smart data policy supporting energy efficiency called Green Button. This paper explores the implementation of Green Button and identifies motivations and success factors facilitating successful collaboration between public and private organizations to support smart disclosure policy.”

The Proceedings of the 14Th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research: Smart Disclosure, Public Value, and Sustainable Consumption | By Holly Jarman, Luis F. Luna-Reyes, and Jana Hrdinová | 6/2013 | “[O]pportunities, barriers and value creation involved in public-private partnerships to better inform consumers in their decision making processes and to promote a more sustainable system.”

World Economic Forum: Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage, February 2013 | 2/2013 | “[This report] examines the need for new approaches in the policies which enable the managing of personal data in ways that are flexible, adaptive and contextually driven. The report highlights outcomes from a nine month, multistakeholder, global dialogue on how the principles for using personal data may need to be refreshed to ensure they protect the rights of individuals, unlock socio-economic value and are fit for the complexities of a hyperconnected world.”

Harvard Business Review: 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.”

SSRN | ‘Product-Attribute Information’ and ‘Product-Use Information’: Smart Disclosure and New Policy Implications for Consumers’ Protection | By Elisa Brodi | 9/4/2012 | “As recent studies have shown, consumers are not aware of their usage habits, while professionals spend enormous resources in mapping and recording it. This might suggest the opportunity of a regulatory intervention, as the consumers are also affected by this asymmetric information…. This phenomenon is part of a novel regulatory approach named ‘smart disclosure’, that is arising in the U.S and U.K.”

McKinsey Global Institute: Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity | 5/2011 | “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…. 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.”

World Economic Forum: Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class | 1/2011 | “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

UK Government: Providing Better Information and Protection for Consumers | “The midata project works with businesses to give consumers better access to the electronic personal data that companies hold about them…. It also aims to give consumers greater control of their data…. Giving people greater access to electronic records of their past buying and spending habits can help them to make better buying choices. For example, data that a phone company holds about your mobile use may help you choose a new tariff.”

UK Government: midata Innovation Lab | “On the 4th July 2013 we opened the midata Innovation Lab (mIL). Over 25 UK organisations, including the government, leading companies, authoritative bodies and academia collaborating on data services innovation and consumer protection for a data-driven future. We’ve put together the world’s fastest-built data innovation lab, and UK brands, developers & consumer bodies have used it to produce some innovate prototype applications….”

UK Government: Announcement of the “Midata” Vision of Consumer Empowerment | 11/3/2011 | “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 Government: UK Consumer Empowerment Strategy: Better Choices, Better Deals Report | 4/13/2011 | “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.”