Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the OPEN Government Data Act. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have led the bipartisan effort to require public data to be accessible at Data.gov so individuals, organizations, and other government offices can utilize it. The legislation must now go before the full Senate.

"I'm pleased that this bipartisan open data bill is heading to the Senate floor,” said Senator Sasse. “In the age of Uber, data isn’t an abstraction and Washington needs to understand that innovation moves at the speed of information. Taxpayers are already paying for this data — let’s ensure that it is accessible and transparent.”

“When data is truly open and accessible, we can grow our data-driven economy and give the public more information about how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Senator Schatz. “Government should help spur innovation, not slow it down.  This is about accountability and transparency and making sure that we empower individuals and the private sector by giving them the information they need.”

Background:

Dozens of technology businesses, industry groups, civil society organizations, and transparency advocates have endorsed the OPEN Government Data Act

Supporters of the legislation include: the Sunlight Foundation, the Data Coalition, Center for Data Innovation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and BSA/The Software Alliance. 

Letters of support can be found here and here.

The OPEN Government Data Act would require, by default, the data included at Data.gov to be 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.