There was big news for open data yesterday with a new Executive Order announced by President Obama. The order lays out the general principles that open, machine readable, data are the “new default”. (We note the Open Definition already includes machine readability in the definition of open data). There will a new Open Data Policy which will require U.S. government agencies to conform to standards “to collect or create information in a way that supports downstream information processing and dissemination activities”. Below, we summarize the key points.

Open By Default

The order reiterates some of the key reasons for openness and makes clear that open is the default:

To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness …

Development of an “Open Data Policy”

Sec. 2. Open Data Policy. (a) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), shall issue an Open Data Policy to advance the
management of Government information as an asset

Clear set of best practices and tools

[Section 3] (a) Within 30 days of the issuance of the Open Data Policy, the CIO and CTO shall publish an open online repository of tools and best practices to assist agencies in integrating the Open Data Policy into their operations in furtherance of their missions. The CIO and CTO shall regularly update this online repository as needed to ensure it remains a resource to facilitate the adoption of open data practices.

Build the policy into procurement

(b) Within 90 days of the issuance of the Open Data Policy, the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, … to identify and initiate implementation of measures to support the integration of the Open Data Policy requirements into Federal acquisition and grant-making processes

By building open data release as a default into procurement this should greatly simplify open publication and remove arguments against release based on cost and complexity.


Implementation will be tracked and assessed:

[Section 3] (c) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Chief Performance Officer (CPO) shall work with the President’s Management Council to establish a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal to track implementation of the Open Data Policy.

In a follow-up we’ll be providing more detailed analysis of the full Open Data Policy memorandum including plans for the new and its use of CKAN.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.

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