An important area when institutions can assert control of data is through purchasing and procurement processes. These processes should be revisited and revised to ensure that they are transparent, competitive, and fully coordinated across the institution.
The experience of academic librarians entering collections subscriptions with scholarly journal publishers has illustrated the importance of implementing open procurement policies. Commercial vendors often have an advantage in negotiations, since they have detailed information on what each office/department/school/campus is willing to acquire and spend, while the institution itself may not. Sometimes this arises simply from a lack of coordination, but in other cases may be enforced through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent institutions from discussing pricing (and also terms and conditions).
Demanding the removal of NDAs from data and data analytics contracts is an important first step that legal offices can take toward open procurement. This will make it possible for institutions to compare pricing terms (and terms and conditions) with their peers, and therefore level the playing field for institutional negotiations.
A critical step is to openly share agreements and contracts with the academic community, making it possible to develop a transparent market price and set of terms and conditions.
Other important best practices in data procurement include retention of data ownership, data migration requirements, perpetual post-cancellation rights to output of data analytics, the preference (or even the mandate) for open source tools and software, the prohibition of disclosure of individual data to third parties (even if anonymized), the notification of subpoenas and government requests for data, and only working with vendors with industry-recognized security certifications.
CDOs or task forces should coordinate with the institution’s legal office to establish open procurement policies and develop a framework under which exceptions are permissible. Institutions are likely to be confronted with situations where a vendor may offer a better deal in exchange for an NDA, and it is important to weigh the short term gain versus the long term benefit of a level playing field.