Despite directives of recent years from OMB and elsewhere, federal agencies still are falling short in sharing data that could be valuable to each other and to the public, says a Senate report on S-760, which has been cleared for floor consideration.
“Additionally, some of the data assets that have been posted publicly are not useful because they are posted in a proprietary format. The need is to both expose the data assets that have not been available and liberate the data assets that have been locked behind licensing and proprietary formats,” says the report, which explains the basis for the legislation.
It cited a GAO report concluding that “a lack of government-wide data standards limits the ability to measure the cost and magnitude of federal investments and hampers efforts to share data across agencies to improve decision-making and oversight.”
For example, it said, GAO found that both the EPA and FDA were inspecting the same laboratories for the same purpose. “Because the agencies did not share data, they may have been unaware that they were performing the same oversight function on the same facility,” it said.
The bill would require that data assets be maintained in an open format–machine readable and not in a proprietary format or subject to licensing. It further would require agencies to maintain an inventory of data assets they create, own, or manage, and that the data be publicly available. It also would strengthen the role of CIOs in overseeing open data and information resources management policy.