Today the Montgomery County Council voted to unanimously pass the Montgomery County Open Data Act. The bill was authored by Councilmember Hans Riemer and seeks to improve transparency by making local government data more accessible to the public. Under the terms of the bill, county officials will have to make government data open to the public as data sets within one year of passage of the final bill and accessible through an online portal.
The bill was originally introduced in July, and the Council is expected to take final action tomorrow. A beta version of the proposed web portal has already been tested. The work is expected to cost the county just under $100,000 to set up in the first year and just over $350,000 in fixed costs to maintain each subsequent year.
According to the text of the bill, the county will also be establishing technology standards for publishing these data sets along with a countywide compliance plan. Some amendments may be required to existing county administrative rules in order to allow for compliance with this new mandate such as it gets passed tomorrow.
Councilmember Riemer has authored a blog post about the bill which provides detail on his goals for open data in the county. In it, he notes that he worked with County Executive Isiah Leggett who established CountyStat and 311 systems in Maryland in 2007. CivSource has reported on the variety of open data and open technology efforts underway in Maryland including initiatives like StateStat. All of these projects are meant to work together to provide officials and the public with a clearer picture of state activities.
A video of the Council meeting is available here.