Data Just Want to be Free

Thursday, the White House moved to make US government data more accessible to the public. President Obama signed an executive order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue an Open Data Policy to “to advance the
management of Government information as an asset”. That policy was also issued today via Memorandum M-13-13. The Open Data Policy, while maintaining appropriate safeguards, requires agencies to “manage information as an asset”. Government data will be “accessible, discoverable, and usable by the public.”

Agencies are required to “collect or create information in a way that supports downstream information processing and dissemination activities.” Open formats and machine-readable datasets are to become the standard for all new information creation and collection activities. This approach is consistent with the tenets of the Sunlight Foundation and other open data advocates. The policy also directs that the website will be enhanced and agencies are required to post any datasets that can be made publicly available on in human- and machine-readable formats.

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