White House Open Data Executive Order Echoes USACM Recommendations

By David Bruggeman
May 29, 2013

In early May the White House issued an Executive Order outlining a policy to make open and machine readable the ‘default’ for new and ‘modernized’ government information. This Open Data Policy would be implemented for federal agencies over the next few months, with quarterly progress reports following the initial rollout.

While the Administration rightly notes that the Open Data Policy is part of an ongoing Open Government Initiative (involving several other executive orders and policies dating to 2009), it also echoes recommendations made by many groups, including USACM. In 2009, as the Administration was dealing with the stimulus legislation, USACM issued recommendations on the government release of data:

  • Data published by the government should be in formats and approaches that promote analysis and reuse of that data.
  • Data republished by the government that has been received or stored in a machine-readable format (such as online regulatory filings) should preserve the machine-readability of that data.
  • Information should be posted so as to also be accessible to citizens with limitations and disabilities.
  • Citizens should be able to download complete datasets of regulatory, legislative or other information, or appropriately chosen subsets of that information, when it is published by government.
  • Citizens should be able to directly access government-published datasets using standard methods such as queries via an API (Application Programming Interface).
  • Government bodies publishing data online should always seek to publish using data formats that do not include executable content.
  • Published content should be digitally signed or include attestation of publication/creation date, authenticity, and integrity.

As the Office of Management and Budget, the Chief Technology Officer, and the Chief Information Officer help agencies implement the new default setting for government information, the additional details should demonstrate how closely this effort aligns with the USACM recommendations. Early signs are encouraging.