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Senate Passes Schatz-Sasse Open Government Data Legislation

OPEN Government Data Act Included In National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate passed the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) which was included in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The bipartisan bill will require public data to be accessible from an online Federal Data Catalog so individuals, organizations, and other government offices can use it.

“Public data must be public, and it’s the government’s job to make sure that it’s online, easy to find, and easy to use,” said Senator Schatz, Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. “In today’s ever-changing digital world, data should be available to anyone who wants to learn from it and improve the world.”

“For more than a year, I’ve worked with Senator Schatz to drag Washington into the 21st century when it comes to data,” said Senator Sasse. “Our OPEN Government Data Act is simple: government data should be made public unless an administration can make a compelling reason to keep it under wraps. This legislation passed the Senate last Congress and, with last night’s passage, I’m glad to carry the momentum forward.”

The OPEN Government Data Act would require, by default, federal government agencies to catalog and publish their data in an open and machine readable format, making government data more accessible to the public. The bill also protects privacy and national security concerns when making the data available to the public while requiring federal agencies use it to improve decision-making and interagency collaboration.

The OPEN Government Data Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). 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.