Lawmakers Introduce OPEN Government Data Act

Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb,) jointly introduced legislation on Tuesday that would make government data more accessible to encourage new discoveries in the private sector. The OPEN Government Data Act would require that public data be accessible at Data.gov to ensure that individuals, organizations, and other government offices can access it.

“By embracing open data we can make government more responsive and helpful to everyday Americans,” Kilmer said in a statement. “Our bipartisan bill seeks to accomplish that by making open data standard practice. It also saves taxpayer money while giving innovators new tools to help fuel breakthroughs.”

“We’re upending Washington’s backwards approach to data,” Sasse said in a statement. “It’s simple: government data should be made public unless an administration makes a compelling reason not to. Data transparency matters because democracy thrives with better information that helps keep government accountable to the Constitution.”

The measure would require the data on the website to be in a machine readable format and easily searchable.

The Data Coalition, a group representing the open data industry, supports the bill. “When government information is expressed as open data, it can be republished for better transparency outside government, analyzed for better management within government, and automated for cheaper reporting to government,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition, in a statement.

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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he and other senators will attempt to roll back Federal Communications Commission rules governing broadband privacy through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to eliminate agency rules with a simple majority of lawmakers. Flake said he has a dozen co-sponsors lined up, but he wouldn’t say when he plans to introduce the resolution.

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