White House Upgrades Open Data Policy

May 14, 2013

On Thursday, President Obama issued an executive order building off his earlier orders and OMB memos like theĀ Open Government Directive, the Managing Government Records Directive, and projects like the Open Government Platform. It’s called “Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information“, and it continues to push federal agencies toward meaningful open data. The OMB has placed a number of major requirements on federal agencies:

  1. Create datasets from collected information with the expectation that data will be used by other sources; keep information machine-readable.
  2. All agencies must internally catalog and index their datasets in both human- and machine-readable formats.
  3. Agencies must publish the portions of the indexes containing datasets which could be made public. (e.g. which do not contain Federal secrets or social security numbers or the like.)
  4. Agencies must create a forum for public dialogue, where members of the public to request certain datasets be prioritized over others.

These are all promising steps, and the White House has created a Github repository with best practices and policies for agencies to learn from and share their experiences, as well as case studies, tools, and various written resources for officials and open government advocates alike.