New Open Data Rules Continue Push for Government Innovation

low power

FCC Visualization of Low Power FM Availability, built on open data and explained on GitHub.

Today, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy jointly released a new Open Data Policy directing agencies to implement specific structural reforms. In conjunction with an Executive Order prioritizing open and machine readable government information, these adjustments are forward looking and exciting. They speak to a general understanding that a deliberate approach to the way that data are processed and released can exponentially enhance their value.

We’ve seen several examples of the drive towards open data and innovation, and today’s releases should augment previous improvements. Philosophically, the Open Data Policy commands agencies to view information as an asset, building an approach that will allow people inside and outside of government to leverage its potential. The Policy’s requirements look at the life cycle of data in practical terms, envisioning a process where accessibility is the norm. This includes using machine-readable and open formats, following data standards, using open licenses and choosing common core and extensible metadata. The Policy directs that information systems support interoperability and information accessibility, and strengthening data security to protect privacy and confidentiality.

An exciting manifestation of this Policy is Project Open Data. Provided via the dynamic coding community GitHub, Project Open Data could be a rich resource for agencies working to implement this Policy and citizens looking to learn more. It is designed as “an online repository of tools, best practices and schema to help agencies adopt the framework presented in this guidance.” Envisioning it as a “community resource,” it will include definitions, explanations, code, checklists and case studies. This type of educational and collaborative hub has helped facilitate thriving technology communities. Project Open Data could go a long way towards providing agencies the tools they need to get the job done.

We’ll continue to track these developments as they arise. Today’s releases show an encouraging emphasis on the nuts and bolts of making open government data the status quo, not an exception.

View the Commons Lab’s case study on the National Broadband Map as government open innovation here.


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