Commitment Analysis: Open Data in the Second National Action Plan

The following was written by Matthew Rumsey of the Sunlight Foundation

The open data commitments contained in the United States' second Open Government Partnership National Action Plan represent a reiteration of previously stated goals coupled with a few small steps towards spreading the ideals of open data to innovative international projects. 

Two of the main goals outlined in this section of the NAP, to "manage government data as a strategic asset," and "launch an improved data.gov," are merely restatements of projects that are already in progress. The Obama administration has committed to managing information as a strategic asset in the past, most notably with the open data executive order released last year. Agencies are currently moving to comply with several particulars of the executive order, which are also mentioned in the NAP, releasing public data listings and developing internal data inventories. Meanwhile, the updated version of Data.gov, which can be viewed at next.data.gov, has been in progress for quite some time.

This overlap is not necessarily a bad thing. These commitments are vitally important to ensuring a more open, accountable, and functional government. The administration has continued to make it clear that these goals are important. Restating them as part of the NAP will help ensure that they are accomplished and solidify the United States' position as a global leader on open government data. 

However, the Obama administration could have moved the ball even further on domestic open data by committing to new and ambitious plans. We would have been particularly excited to see a push to collect and release more robust ethics data as well as language urging agencies to release the full scope of information about their data holdings. 

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