Stores of government data should soon become more easily accessible to the public, according to a new executive order signed by President Barack Obama on Thursday.
The executive order, “Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information,” called for the “default state of new and modernized government information resources shall be open and machine readable.”
Machine-readable formats are data formats that can be easily understood by computers, such as XML or StratML.
Data in these formats can then be used by businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs, law enforcement, regulators, transparency groups and journalists.
The order, Obama said, was to “promote continued job growth, government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening government data to the public[.]”
“Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable,” Obama said.
“In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security,” he added.
The order, however, does not “compel or authorize the disclosure of privileged information, law enforcement information, national security information, personal information, or information the disclosure of which is prohibited by law.”
The executive order was expected: Todd Park, the White House’s chief technology officer, announced in early January that the administration planned to issue an order that would mandate consistent data formats across the federal government.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy released the administration’s Open Data Policy on Thursday in conjunction with the Obama’s open data executive order.
Six days prior to the signing of the executive order, The Daily Caller reported on the lack of an official government list of programs and agencies, as well as the lack of consistent data standards across the government.
The order was applauded by tech industry representatives like TechAmerica and the Data Transparency Coalition. Technology oriented publications such as GigaOm, Mashable and TechCrunch have already noted how the executive order would be a boon to mobile app developers.