Senate Passes Schatz-Sasse Data Transparency Legislation

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously 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.). The bipartisan bill will require public data to be accessible at Data.gov so individuals, organizations, and other government offices can utilize it.

“Public information belongs to the public, and it’s the government’s job to make sure that data is available and easily accessible in today’s ever-changing digital world,” said Senator Schatz. “I thank Senator Sasse for working with me to get this through the Senate, and I look forward to continuing our work in the next Congress.”

“I'm proud to work across the aisle with Senator Schatz to bring a 21st century solution to this city's antiquated, 20th century approach to data,” said Senator Sasse. “Because transparency keeps Washington accountable to the people, government data should be made public unless an administration makes a compelling reason not to. After passing the Senate with bipartisan support, we have momentum to carry this important work into the new year.”

The OPEN Government Data Act will 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.

“The passage of the OPEN Government Data Act marks another milestone in the open data movement,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “This bill builds on open data reforms such as the DATA Act. Our Coalition and the emerging open data industry thank Senators Sasse and Schatz for their leadership.”

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.

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