Last Saturday, December 10, the Senate approved by unanimous consent the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (S.2852), sending a strong signal to the incoming 115th Congress that the bill can quickly be passed by both chambers upon re-introduction in January 2017. The OPEN Government Data Act would require all federal agencies to publish their information online, using nonproprietary, machine-readable data formats.
The Senate’s action last week helps further the goal of making open data the default for federal information. “For open data to truly take hold, Congress needs to institutionalize the existing executive policy on its own terms and take ownership of a government-wide transformation,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition.
Earlier this month the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored S.2852 and concluded there would be no significant budgetary impact (see the CBO statement here).
In summary, the OPEN Government Data Act would:
- Push federal agencies to take the next step in publishing their data sets in a truly accessible manner in open formats and as machine-readable data (see Sec. 5, Requirement for making Open and Machine Readable the Default for Government Data);
- Help map all the federal data sets (see Section 7, Data Inventory and Planning and Section 8. Technology Portal);
- Empower agency Chief Information Officers to improve the quality of the data they are publishing (see Section 9, Enhanced Responsibility for Chief Information Officers and Chief Information Officers Council Duties); and
- Write meaningful open data definitions into US law to enable smarter legislation in the future (see Section 4, Federal Information and Policy Definitions).
For more information on the legislation you can see the Data Coalition’s summary page here.
Our Coalition and the emerging open data industry thank Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), the bill's sponsors, for their leadership.
Read the Coalition's full press release here.