The U.S. Agency for International Development jumped on the open data wave last week, announcing its first-ever policy to share its data sets and tools with the public on a central repository.
Referred to as Automated Directives System 579, the open data policy is a hat tip to President Barack Obama’s directive on transparency and open government five years ago and comes after the agency’s Frontiers in Development Forum in September addressing pathways for innovation for its mission to provide support to impoverished countries. With the new policy, USAID will provide a framework to open its agency-funded data to the public and publish it in a central location, making it easy to consume and use.
“USAID has long been a data-driven and evidence-based Agency, but never has the need been greater to share our data with a diverse set of partners—including the general public—to improve development outcomes,” wrote Angelique Crumbly, USAID’s performance improvement officer, and Brandon Pustejovsky, chief data officer for USAID, in a blog post. “For the first time in history, we have the tools, technologies and approaches to end extreme poverty within two decades. And while many of these new innovations were featured at our recent Frontiers in Development Forum, we also recognize that they largely rely on an ongoing stream of data (and new insights generated by that data) to ensure their appropriate application.”
With the overarching policy for governing USAID’s publication on data throughout its many bureaus internationally, ADS 579 also introduces its Data Development Library, the hub in which USAID will present the sets of data it opens to the public in machine-readable formats. The policy is broad in the data it requests, but it specifically includes performance-monitoring data, survey results, research data, USAID information system data, supporting documentation and metadata.
According to ADS 579, “USAID staff, as well as contractors and recipients of USAID assistance awards (e.g. grants and cooperative agreements), must submit any Dataset created or collected with USAID funding to the DDL in accordance with the terms and conditions of their awards.” Likewise, the data is open to the public for use.
Finally, ADS 579 establishes several positions, what it refers to as “data stewards,” responsible for overseeing the policy and the handling of USAID’s data. Within that will be a new Information Governance Committee that reports to USAID’s Management Operations Council.
USAID’s DDL and open data will be hosted on the USAID website, where there’s already a long list of databases hosted. USAID also started a GitHub page for any feedback on the data.
USAID did not comment by publication.