Louise Lief

Universities race to safeguard government data under Trump

Columbia Journalism Review

07/03/2017

IN AN ERA when Trump administration officials label unwelcome tidings as fake news,  endorse “alternative facts,” and favor conspiracy theories, many see another looming threat. They fear federal data may become the next casualty of a post-truth world.

The Trump administration’s early actions have sounded the alarm. First there was the dispute with the National Park Service over the inauguration crowd size. Then, the USDA removed animal welfare information from its website. There have been other disputes about statistics, such as the President’s false claim that the current US murder rate is the highest it’s been in 47 years. Given the Administration’s skepticism of climate science, its dim view of government regulations, and its proposed budget cuts, many suspect data may become the enemy in the administration’s effort to “deconstruct the administrative state.”

The nation’s colleges and universities aren’t taking any chances. Data is their stock-in-trade, and they know how vulnerable it can be. Fearing worst-case scenarios where original data disappears, they are spearheading a remarkable, self-organized movement to safeguard and protect federal data.

Read more at Columbia Journalism Review.

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Louise Lief is an independent consultant to philanthropy, non-profits and media, helping mission-driven organizations design, execute and communicate program strategies to achieve their objectives with maximum impact.

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