Senators Sasse, Schatz & Representatives Kilmer, Farenthold Introduce OPEN Act 

Today, Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27) jointly introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to open up government data to improve services and support new discoveries in the private sector. The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act requires that public data be accessible at Data.gov so individuals, organizations and other government offices can utilize it.

“We’re upending Washington’s backwards approach to data,” said Sasse. “It’s simple: government data should be made public unless an administration makes a compelling reason not to. Data transparency matters because democracy thrives with better information that helps keep government accountable to the Constitution.”  

“The public's information isn’t actually public information until we can access it the way we want to in the digital world,” said Schatz. “Our bill will make sure the government does a better job of sharing data, so that we can help jumpstart private sector innovation, while giving the public more information about how their tax dollars are being spent.  I thank Representatives Kilmer and Farenthold for working with Senator Sasse and me to write this bipartisan and bicameral bill.” 

“By embracing open data we can make government more responsive and helpful to everyday Americans,” said Kilmer. “Our bipartisan bill seeks to accomplish that by making open data standard practice. It also saves taxpayer money while giving innovators new tools to help fuel breakthroughs. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to empower positive change for our government, citizens, and businesses.”

“Open government data is a great and efficient way to improve transparency in the federal government,” said Farenthold. “Today, we can’t even imagine the applications that developers might find to make folks’ lives easier as federal data starts to become more available in a more useable format.”

The OPEN Government Data Act would require, by default, the data included at Data.gov to be 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 while requiring federal agencies use it to improve decision making.