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OPEN Government Data Act Signed Into Law

January 15, 2019, 1:10 PM HST (Updated January 15, 2019, 1:10 PM)
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The Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act was signed into law by President Trump on Monday, Jan.14, 2019. The new law, authored by Sens. Brian Schatz and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), will require 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 addresses privacy and national security concerns.

“This new law will require public data to be published in a way that people can actually use it. 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,” Sen. Schatz said.

 “This is a big win for transparency in government,” said Sen. Sasse. “Washington’s backwards approach to data needed a fix—and this bipartisan solution is good news for data transparency and responsible government. We have long worked to get this legislation across the finish line and I’m glad to see President Trump sign it into law.”

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. It supports significant economic value, increases transparency, efficiency, and accountability in government operations, and can power new tools and services that address some of the country’s most pressing economic and social challenges. This new law creates an expectation that—by default—government data will be open and available whenever possible.

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