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On Monday, the U.S President, Donald Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEBP) Act, which includes the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (Title II).

In 2017, Data Coalition, an open data trade association, together with eighty-five organizations including businesses, industry groups, and others wrote a letter to express their support for OPEN Government Data Act. This bill passed unanimously by the Senate in 2016, in 2017 it was included FEBP Act as Title II, and in December 2018 it was passed by the Congress before reaching to the president’s desk.

What OPEN Government Data Act is about?

The federal government has siloed huge amount of public data, which can be instead used to drive private sector innovations and improve government services. FEBP Act aims to change the way the government collects, publishes, and uses non-sensitive public information. According to the OPEN Government Data Act, which is a part of FEBP, government data should be made publicly available in open and machine-readable formats. It also states that the federal government should use open data to improve decision making.

Explaining the OPEN Government Data Act, Sarah Joy Hays, Acting Executive Director of the Data Coalition said, “Title II, the OPEN Government Data Act, which our organization has been working on for over three and a half years, sets a presumption that all government information should be open data by default: machine-readable and freely-reusable.

Additionally, this Act requires federal agencies to designate a non-political employee in the agency as the Chief Data Officer (CDO). The qualifications of CDO includes training and experience in data management, governance, collection, analysis, protection, use, and dissemination to protect and de-identify confidential data. A CDO council is also established that will be responsible for promoting and encouraging data sharing agreements between agencies, identify ways in which agencies can improve upon the production of evidence for use in policymaking, and more.

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