Bipartisan Data Transparency Bill Discussed in Key Committee

Representatives Kilmer, Farenthold & Senators Schatz, Sasse originally introduced the OPEN Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, a key House committee discussed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to open up government data to improve services and support new discoveries in the private sector. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reviewed a bill originally introduced by Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27). Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act requires that public data be accessible at Data.gov so individuals, organizations and other government offices can utilize it. The members wrote about the bill in Morning Consult upon its introduction last year.

“Our goal is to make data more open to the public and more efficiently used by government agencies,” said Kilmer. “This bipartisan bill took a step forward today because our colleagues recognize it makes government more responsive and helpful to everyday Americans by making open data standard practice. It saves taxpayer money and gives innovators new tools to help fuel breakthroughs. I’m proud to be a part of this effort to empower positive change for our government, citizens, and businesses.”

“Just because government data is public doesn’t mean it’s easily accessible,” said Rep. Farenthold. “This is information taxpayers already own because their tax dollars pay for it, which is why it should be easy to access.”     

The OPEN Government Data Act would require, by default, the data included at Data.gov to be available in a machine-readable format to make it accessible to anyone and easily searchable. It also protects privacy and national security information when making federal government data available to the public and requires federal agencies to use data to improve decision making.