November 15, 2017

House Passes Evidence-Based Policy Legislation Which Includes Key Kilmer-Drafted Provision to Make Data More Transparent and Accessible

The House passed a bill today which includes key elements of Kilmer’s OPEN Data Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act which includes a provision written by cosponsor Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) to make data more transparent. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the measure would require federal agencies to designate a Chief Data Officer and establish data inventories to make data more available to the public while safeguarding private information. 

The bill originated from Kilmer’s bipartisan, bicameral Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act which requires public data to be made available in a format computers recognize so people, organizations and other government offices can search it easily. That bill also includes a measure to protect privacy and national security information when making federal government data available to the public and when federal agencies use data to improve decision-making. 

“Government data that’s easy to find helps Americans invent new technology, start businesses and create jobs, Representative Derek Kilmer said. “From the Internet to more accurate GPS, the best advancements are made when the government’s data is available to all the people who paid for it. Congress gets more done when it works together, and I am glad the House leadership included my bill, the OPEN Government Data Act in this legislation.” 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan commended Rep. Kilmer for his work on the legislation. Today on the Floor of the House of Representatives Speaker Ryan said, “Blake Farenthold and Derek Kilmer were key drivers of this measure, and they made it stronger by incorporating their Open Government Data Act.” 

Kilmer has been working hard to make government data more available to the public so it can be used in a wider variety of formats. Current examples include how the weather data powering apps on smartphones currently comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). Additionally, The Department of Education maintains a College Scorecard so consumers can compare schools, see which institutions provide the best price, and calculate potential financial aid.

The OPEN Government Data Act was originally introduced by Representatives Kilmer and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) along with Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE). Kilmer’s work on open data was endorsed by the Sunlight Foundation, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), and the Data Coalition. 

Kilmer has consistently sought to enact open data policies into law. The OPEN Government Data Act was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) the Senate recently passed. In March the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reviewed and discussed the data bill. 

This is the most recent in a trio of bills passed by the House that included a Kilmer-drafted policy. Last Monday, the House passed the VA Management Alignment Act of 2017, a Kilmer-sponsored bill which would direct the head of the VA to report to Congress the steps required to reorganize the VA so it improves veterans’ access to quality health care. The House also passed H.R. 918, the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental HealthCare Act, which was originally sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman in partnership with Kilmer.  That bill allows veterans with an other than honorable discharge attributable to a health issue like PTSD or a traumatic brain injury to receive mental health care from the VA. The Congressman wrote extensively on that issue in a recent op-ed.