The Power of Information: An Early ORNL Spinoff Company and the Development of the New World of Open Science and Open Data

Bonnie C. Carroll, founder and retired CEO of Information International Associates, Inc. (IIa)

 

Biographical Background:

Bonnie C. Carroll is the retired interim executive director of the World Data System – International Program Office. She is founder and retired CEO of Information International Associates, Inc. (IIa), an information management and technology company that had almost 300 employees when she sold it in 2018 after 30 years of operation.  

Major Customers

 

She has supported government, academia and industry in managing information as a strategic resource for almost five decades. Before founding IIa, Bonnie worked at ORNL from 1971 to 1978 where she took on progressively more responsible positions from librarian to information specialist to ORNL Data Center Coordinator under the associate laboratory director for Environmental and Biomedical Sciences. After leaving ORNL she spent two years in the private sector and then became a federal employee at the Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information in Oak Ridge. She left there in 1987 and founded IIa shortly

Today, she serves on the Board of Research Data and Information of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has been the secretary general of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology, or CODATA (term ended November 2021) and is the chair of the U.S. National Committee for CODATA. She staffed two U.S. White House Interagency Working Groups in Biodiversity Informatics and Digital Data. She has extensive experience in organization planning and analysis.

For over three decades, Bonnie was the executive director of CENDI, a federal interagency cooperation among 14 agency scientific and technical information managers. She has helped two major U.S. agencies restructure their information exchange programs. She had a principal role in international development projects, including one to help develop a national information policy for the Kingdom of Jordan (a joint Jordanian Technical Information Center/World Bank project). She has done special studies for the International Atomic Energy Agency and led a pilot project to develop telematics services—long-distance transmission of computerized information—for the Eastern Caribbean people. 

Bonnie is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has served on its council. She has written and presented extensively on information policy, information strategy and planning for scientific and technical information management. She is on the editorial board for the journal Information Services and Use and on the Board of Visitors for the University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information. She earned an M.S. degree from Columbia University and a B.A. degree from Cornell University. Her experience working across organizational lines and international boundaries in different subject areas helps her understand the needs of various stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

 

Abstract:

Beginning with the Weinberg Report of 1963 (Science, Government, and Information: The Responsibilities of the Technical Community and the Government in the Transfer of Information) issued by the President’s Science Advisory Committee when Alvin Weinberg was director of ORNL, the Oak Ridge name and the development of scientific data and information management formed the backbone of Information International Associates (IIa). Of course, the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (under this and previous names) was a known center for nuclear information from the end of World War II.  My talk will describe my path of development as an entrepreneur who built a $73 million company starting with my experience with these two organizations. 

I will describe trends and events beginning with the 24 information centers at ORNL in the 1970s through the development of information technologies from the first automation of scientific information before personal computing, the internet, and the web to a world of open science through open data. I will explain how IIa was influenced by and had an impact on developments in data policy and practice.

 Bringing the history of Oak Ridge and scientific information up to the present, I will talk about my sale of IIa in 2018 and my continued work in contributing to the development of a national Research Data Framework for the National Institutes for Standards and Technology. Most recently, I was instrumental in bringing the World Data System International Program Office to Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, a joint venture between ORNL and UTK.

 

Bonnie Carroll