Tag Archives: open data

Data takes center stage in Washington DC

It’s been a busy week in data-related issues in Washington DC:

The Census Project looks at where Census FY2015 funding levels stand after the House Appropriations Committee markup last week. Terri Ann Lowenthal has broken out some of the numbers. The revised budget goes to the full House for a vote on May 28.

On Wednesday, May 7th, the House approved the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366), which “will reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act and improve the federal research structure to better provide states with access to useful data that can help raise student achievement levels in the classroom”. Among other things, the bill specifically reauthorizes the Institute of Education Sciences, which includes the National Center for Education Statistics and three other centers.

On May 9th, President Obama enacted the nation’s first open data law, The Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2014. The DATA Act requires federal agencies to publish their spending data in a standardized, machine-readable format that the public can access through USASpending.gov. APDU will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday, May 28th, “What The New DATA Act Means for Data Users” as part of Public Data University’s Special Topics / 301 series.

On the same day as the DATA Act signing, the Administration issued its new US Open Data Action Plan, calling for agencies to solicit feedback from government data users to improve the quality of government data and prioritize its release to the public. Information Week examines the four actions aimed at advancing the usability of open government data. Outside DC, Nashville is latest city to join open data movement.

As cited in last week’s APDU Weekly, the White House released their report Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values. Here’s one take on reactions to the report and another take on why it matters.

Finally, the current draft of the Senate transportation bill “flat funds” the Bureau of Transportation Statistics through 2020. Back in March, APDU board member Steve Pierson from ASA took a look at the budget trends of the mid-size statistical agencies. BTS in particular has not seen a marked increase in the past decade.

This week in data advocacy

A number of bills and advocacy efforts related to public and open data have been in the news in the past week.

  • Three years in the making, some have called the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) the most significant open-government legislation since the Freedom of Information Act in 1966. The new law would require the federal government to automate, standardize, and publish its myriad financial management, procurement, and related data in electronic formats that can be easily accessed and analyzed by interested parties in the public and private sectors.
  • In Maryland, the new Council on Open Data was created by SB644 designed to make more of Maryland’s government data more available and searchable to everyone. The new law creates a 37-member council that includes all the cabinet secretaries and other departments of state government. It is headed by the secretary of Information Technology. The legislation with some amendments had the strong support of the O’Malley administration and good government organizations such as Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the Sunlight Foundation.
  • The California State Senate is taking up legislation that would restrict how information gathered by automated license plate recognition systems is shared and sold, while at the same time making the data more accessible to law enforcement. Senate Bill 893 refers to the use of data generated by automated license plate readers and highlights the increasing use of cutting-edge technology to collect personal information.
  • Legislation proposed in Missouri would wall off the public from data collected by state agencies under the federal Animal Disease Traceability Program. “Transparency about the food we eat seems to be in the public interest. We would urge legislators to keep this information open,” writes the Joplin Globe in an editorial.
  • At the local level, New York City had formerly introduced a bill that would have pushed Ray Kelly’s police department one step closer to opening up crash data. That bill has been reintroduced by Council Member Brad Lander. But with new leadership, NYPD is dropping hints that it will release better public data soon. Advocates say Lander’s bill could use some upgrades to help the public get more out of NYPD’s crash data.