OPEN Government Data Act, H.R.1770 - 115th Congress (2017-2018)

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H.R.1770 - OPEN Government Data Act

Legislative History and Intent

Background (2009-2017)

The impetus for the creation of was the January 2009 Presidential Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other agency partners, launched on May 21, 2009.

In 2014, the current version of the catalog was launched. Agencies compile metadata such as title, description, keywords, and links for accessing their datasets, and the catalog automatically “harvests” that metadata to populate a continually updated catalog.

Introduced in House (03/29/2017)

The OPEN Government Data Act, signed into law in January 2019, aims to promote transparency, innovation, and collaboration by making government data more accessible and usable. In this article, we will explore the key provisions of the OPEN Government Data Act and its potential impact on government operations and public engagement.

Bill Passed (2019)

In 2019, the process of maintaining a central catalog of federal agency datasets was made a statutory mandate under the OPEN Government Data Act. Federal agencies are required by statute to create and maintain comprehensive metadata inventories to be harvested by a central federal catalog operated by GSA.

Authority and Requirements

What is the OPEN Government Data Act?

The OPEN Government Data Act, which stands for "Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act," is a part of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-435). The act seeks to change how government information is formatted, cataloged, and presented for public access and use. It builds upon the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 (P.L. 113-187), which require records materials to be assessed by agencies for public release.

The act establishes a presumption that "Government data assets made available by an agency shall be published as machine-readable data…in an open format, and… under open licenses". This means that government data should be easily accessible and usable by the public, without restrictions or barriers.

What does the OPEN Government Data Require?

This bill requires open government data assets made available by federal agencies (excluding the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Election Commission, and certain other government entities) to be published as machine-readable data. When not otherwise prohibited by law, and to the extent practicable, public data assets and nonpublic data assets maintained by the federal government must be available: (1) in an open format that does not impede use or reuse and that has standards maintained by a standards organization; and (2) under open licenses with a legal guarantee that the data be available at no cost to the public with no restrictions on copying, publishing, distributing, transmitting, citing, or adapting.

If published government data assets are not available under an open license, the data must be considered part of the worldwide public domain. Agencies may engage with outside organizations and citizens to leverage public data assets for innovation in public and private sectors.

Under the OPEN Government Data Act, Agencies must:
(1) make their enterprise data inventories available to the public on, and
(2) designate a point of contact to assist the public and respond to complaints about adherence to open data requirements.

For privacy, security, confidentiality, or regulatory reasons, agencies may maintain a nonpublic portion of their inventories.

Additionally, The General Services Administration must maintain a single public interface online as a point of entry dedicated to sharing open government data with the public. And The Office of Management and Budget must develop and maintain an online repository of tools, best practices, and schema standards to facilitate the adoption of open data practices.

Key Provisions of the OPEN Government Data Act

Open by Default

The act mandates that all government data should be open by default, unless there are specific reasons for keeping it confidential, such as national security or privacy concerns.

Machine-Readable and Open Formats

Government data must be published in machine-readable and open formats, making it easier for the public to access and use the data.

Comprehensive Data Inventory

Each agency is required to develop and maintain a comprehensive data inventory of all data assets, including metadata. as a Central Repository

The act makes, the federal government's central catalog for open data, a statutory requirement rather than just a policy.

Chief Data Officers

The act requires each agency to designate a Chief Data Officer responsible for data governance, management, and implementation of the act's requirements.

Public Engagement

Agencies are encouraged to engage with the public and gather feedback on their data management practices and priorities.


OPEN Government Data Act, H.R.1770 - 115th Congress (2017-2018).

The OPEN Government Data Act: A Primer, CRS Reports.

OPEN Government Data Act, Data Coalition.

Open Data: Additional Action Required for Full Public Access, GAO.

Open Government Data Act (2018), CIO.GOV.

Open Government,

Open Government Initiative, The White House.

Open Data Policies, US EPA.

Open Data: Agencies Need Guidance to Establish Comprehensive Data Inventories, GAO.

About this repository, Data Gov.

Grassley TO OMB - OPEN Government Data Act Implementation.

AI and Open Government Data Assets Request for Information, Federal Register.

How to get your Open Data on, Data Gov.

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