OPEN Government Data Act

On March 29, 2017, bipartisan supporters reintroduced the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (S. 760, H.R. 1770), which will require all federal agencies to publish their information online, using non-proprietary, searchable data formats.
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Celebrating the introduction of the OPEN Government Data Act on April 14, 2016: Data Coalition executive director Hudson Hollister, Center for Data Innovation director Daniel Castro, Center for Data Innovation policy associate Josh New, Rep. Blake Farenthold, Sen. Brian Schatz, Rep. Derek Kilmer, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation president Robert Atkinson. Photo credit: Center for Data Innovation.

Government information should be published as machine-readable data – not documents.

The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act provides a sweeping, government-wide mandate for federal agencies to publish all their information as open data – using standardized, nonproprietary formats. The OPEN Government Data Act builds on President Obama’s May 2013 Open Data Policy. It makes the key aspects of the Open Data Policy permanent. On Saturday, December 10, 2016 the Senate Unanimously passed the OPEN Government Data Act (S.2852) in the 114th Congress.

In the 115th Congress, a slightly modified bill was reintroduced in both the House (HR 1770) and Senate (S 760) on March 29th 2017 with identical text. On May 17th, 2017 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill for consideration on the Senate floor. The Data Coalition and many policy partners are working to convince the Oversight Committee to move the bill in the House.

The OPEN Government Data Act sets an official presumption that “Government data assets made available by an agency shall be published as machine-readable data … in an open format, and … under open licenses.”

It would make every failure to use open data – the SEC’s reliance on document-based corporate disclosures, the government’s continued use of the proprietary DUNS Number, the IRS’ reluctance to move to e-filing – legally questionable. Section 5 will provide a powerful tool for open data reforms in every area of the government’s information portfolio.

The OPEN Government Data Act also requires agencies to maintain, and publish, an Enterprise Data Inventory of all data assets. The Enterprise Data Inventory will help agencies and open data advocates identify key government information resources and transform them from documents and siloed databases into open data.

The OPEN Government Data Act’s lead sponsors are Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6-D), Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27-R), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).

OPEN Government Data Act Resources

  • Text of the OPEN Government Data Act on Congress.gov – Senate version (s.760) and House version (H.R. 1770)
  • Section-by-section summary published by Rep. Kilmer’s office
  • 2017 House Dear Colleague sent by lead sponsors of HR 1770
  • The Data Coalition’s press release announcing the Senate had unanimously passed the OPEN Government Data Act (S.2852), December 10th, 2017
  • 2016 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost score on S. 2852 (Senate passed version, 114th Congress) stating no significant impact to federal spending by the bill
  • Data Coalition’s supporting testimony before the House Oversight Committee hearing on Legislative Proposals for Fostering Transparency, March 23 2017 – Hudson Hollister’s written testimony, Committee’s hearing webpage, and video archive
  • Data Coalition blog posts about the OPEN Government Data Act
  • Video of OPEN Government Data Act introduction event co-hosted by the Center for Data Innovation and Data Coalition, April 14, 2016
  • Supporting Industry letter with eighty-six signatories (organized by the Center for Data Innovation), April 5 2017
  • Supporting Industry letter with forty-eight signatories (organized by the Center for Data Innovation), May 6, 2016
  • Video of OPEN Government Data Act introduction event co-hosted by the Center for Data Innovation and Data Coalition, April 14, 2016