WASHINGTON–The Center for Data Innovation today welcomed the unveiling of the bipartisan Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act in the House of Representatives by Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and the forthcoming Senate bill by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE). The Center issued the following statement from Director Daniel Castro:
The U.S. government has a wealth of data, and turning this data over to the public creates a powerful platform for innovation. Congress should be commended for taking this important step forward in unlocking the economic and social value of government data. The Center for Data Innovation was the first think tank to call attention to the need for comprehensive federal legislation to secure the future of open data, and we are pleased to see it moving forward today.
The OPEN Government Data Act will codify and improve existing open data requirements to ensure that federal government agencies release valuable data sets, follow best practices, and commit to openness by default. In addition, by passing legislation, Congress will signal to developers and investors that the U.S. government has committed to open data, creating less risk for those who may want to build apps or services using the data.
This bill includes a number of provisions that would improve the public’s ability to scrutinize wasteful, fraudulent, or abusive government spending, help agencies better manage their own data resources and create valuable new public services, and support private sector efforts to develop new business models supported by open data. Importantly, the OPEN Government Data Act also directs agencies to engage businesses, civil society groups, and other nongovernment entities to expand the use of open data and maximize its value to the public.
Congress has previously taken steps to enshrine open data principles in law with the bipartisan DATA Act of 2014, which required agencies to publish federal spending information as open data. Now, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have an opportunity to work together to ensure open data becomes a permanent responsibility of the federal government.
The OPEN Government Data Act is being unveiled at an event cohosted by the Center and the Data Coalition titled, “Securing the Future of Open Government Data in the United States.”
For more on open government data, see the first recommendation in the Center’s May 2015 report, “Accelerating Data Innovation: A Legislative Agenda for Congress.”