Senate Approves OPEN Government Data Act

December 20, 2018, 11:14 AM HST (Updated December 20, 2018, 11:14 AM)
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The U.S. Senate approved the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). The bipartisan bill requires federal agencies to publish public information in an open, machine-readable format and catalog it online, so that individuals, organizations, and other government offices can use it. It also preserves privacy and national security concerns. The bill passed as part of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act.

“This bill requires all data the government collects that isn’t secret or private to be machine readable and interoperable,” Sen. Schatz said. “It’s the people’s data; they paid for it, and they deserve to access it, whether it’s weather, traffic, census or budget numbers.”

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“Senator Schatz and I want to end Washington’s backwards approach to data,” said Sen.r Sasse. “This isn’t rocket science: transparency is good and government data should be made public unless there’s a compelling reason not to. Our OPEN Data Act is pretty simple: innovation, research, and transparency are great and that’s something everyone agrees on.”

The federal government possesses an enormous amount of valuable public data. Open data—data that is made freely available to use without restrictions—has proven to be an enormously effective platform for innovation in the public sectors, supporting significant economic value, increasing transparency, efficiency, and accountability in government operations, and powering new tools and services that address some of the country’s most pressing economic and social challenges. This legislation achieves these goals by creating an expectation that – by default – government data will be open and available whenever possible.

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