Tech firms, advocates call for action on new open data bill

Nearly 50 businesses, industry groups, civil society organizations and transparency advocates have written a letter to oversight committees in the House and Senate in support of a bill that ensures government data is open to the public by default.

Nearly 50 businesses, industry groups, civil society organizations and transparency advocates are calling on oversight committees in the House and Senate to advance a bill ensuring government data is open to the public by default.

Businesses like Amazon Web Services, EMC and Splunk, along with organizations like the Center for Data Innovation, Consumer Technology Association and New America’s Open Technology Institute signed a letter Friday, calling on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to act on the The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act.

Introduced as HR 5051 by Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas on the House side; and as S. 2582 Sens. Brian Schatz, D-HI, and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. on the Senate side, the bill would provide a legislative mandate for a number of open data initiatives already underway in the federal government under executive order.

[Read more: Congress wants to turn Obama’s open data actions into law]


The bill tells agencies to work with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to create an inventory of all enterprise data, determine what can be released publicly, and post it with open licenses and in machine-readable formats.

Additionally, the bill requires that all the work required to make data available to the public be done with existing resources, and that all new data sets used by agencies open to the public by default.

“In recent years, open data — data that is made freely available to use without restrictions — has proven to be an enormously effective platform for innovation in both the public and private sectors, supporting significant economic value, increasing transparency, efficiency, and accountability in government operations, and powering new tools and services that address some of the country’s most pressing economic and social challenges,” the letter reads.

FedScoop has reached out to both House and Senate committees on what their plan of action is regarding the bill, and will update this story if we receive any new information.

You can read the full letter here.


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Greg Otto

Written by Greg Otto

Greg Otto is Editor-in-Chief of CyberScoop, overseeing all editorial content for the website. Greg has led cybersecurity coverage that has won various awards, including accolades from the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Greg worked for the Washington Business Journal, U.S. News & World Report and WTOP Radio. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Temple University.

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