While we have all eyes on the government shutdown situation, Congress has passed a bill that will make it easier for the public to gain access to publicly-available data released by the US government.
Approved by the House on Saturday, the OPEN Government Data Act is part of a larger bill that provides support for evidence-based policymaking. Through this act, it requires US federal agencies to publish any “non-sensitive” information in a “machine-readable” format. In other words, information that’s readily available for you to read on your smartphone or laptop, for example. In addition to the bill’s data access point, it also insists that agencies appoint a chief data officer that will oversee all of these open data efforts.
Previously, the bill was passed through Senate last Wednesday, and will now be headed to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
While data will become more readily available to the public, it also preserves privacy and national security concerns. This means that there will not be any sensitive data about the public or any sort of military information. In addition, there were also some amendments made to the act before being passed. For example, it was tweaked that this would only be applied to CFO Act agencies, not the Federal Reserve or smaller agencies.