White House aims to 'liberate open data' with Executive Order

A new "Open Data Policy" aims to require all new government data to be made available in open, machine-readable formats.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

The White House made a serious push on Thursday with new initiatives dedicated to opening up government information and data to the general public.

The strategy is comprised of two parts: an Executive Order and a new Open Data Policy released today by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget.

Essentially, the goal is to ensure that all newly generated government data will be required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats while ensuring privacy and security.

Specifically, those formats include CSV, XML, and JSON -- and even APIs "when appropriate."

U.S. chief technology officer Todd Park and U.S. chief information officer Steve VanRoekel co-published a blog post on Thursday, further explaining the Executive Branch's efforts to make government-held data more accessible -- especially for entrepreneurial and innovative purposes.

Here's a snippet from the Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama:

To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable. In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security.

The Order also includes a timeline about the pending implementation of the Open Data Policy, outlining the next steps over the following 30, 90 and 180 days.

Notably, the U.S. CIO and CTO will be required to publish an online library of tools and best practices to assist other government agencies with integrating the Open Data Policy into their workflows.

The full text is available on the official White House website. For more about the initiative, check out the promo clip below:

For more on the Open Data Policy, scroll through the document below:

U.S. Open Data Policy (memo)

Editorial standards