Congress Moves To Make Open Data A Default for Gov


There’s a new bill in Congress that seeks to make open data the default policy of the US government. The bill has the support of one open data interest group that has been pushing several transparency efforts in recent years.

The OPEN Government Data Act was introduced by co-sponsors of the House bill Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). A Senate bill has the backing of Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). The bipartisan effort would require that federal agencies abandon the use of proprietary data formats and move to something machine readable. The bill also includes provisions to make the data searchable and would also require agencies to provide justification for why data was not published.

The measure effectively expands President Obama’s 2013 open data executive order and makes it law. The bill would also set up enterprise data inventories for each agency. An audit of the data housed within each agency would likely be eye-opening to the government itself, and would also be of high value to the public.

The OPEN Act also has the support of the Data Coalition, which pushes for greater transparency in government and also supports a specific style of open data formatting. The organization supported the DATA Act of 2014 as well, which requires the government to express spending information as open data. The group is also supporting the Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 2477) which would make financial regulatory reporting more transparent.

“When government information is expressed as open data, it can be republished for better transparency outside government, analyzed for better management within government, and automated for cheaper reporting to government,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition.

The full text of the bill is available here.