In an effort to promote interoperability and openness within the federal government, White House officials this morning released a new policy that requires agencies to make open and machine-readable data the new default for federal information.
A May 9 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget stated the new framework would help implement the principles of effective information management at all stages of the information’s life cycle.
“Whether or not particular information can be made public, agencies can apply this framework to all information resources to promote efficiency and produce value,” the memo stated.
Agencies will now have to collect or create information in a way that supports downstream information processing and dissemination activities. This practice includes using machine-readable and open formats, data standards, and common core and extensible metadata for all new information creation and collection efforts.
“Managing government information as an asset will increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs, improve services, support mission needs, safeguard personal information, and increase public access to valuable government information,” said the memo, signed by OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and Dominic Mancini, acting administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Making information more accessible can help spur entrepreneurship and innovation, the officials wrote. For example, when the federal government released weather data and the Global Positioning System, entrepreneurs and innovators used that information to create a range of tools, including navigation systems and location-based applications.
However, those two data sources are just the beginning. Park, an enthusiastic open data champion, has previously said the possibilities are endless when data gets liberated. At a recent event, Park said freeing the weather data and GPS information were “just the tip of the iceberg,” and much more data remains to be released from the vaults of government.