Critical Read

ITIF: Congress needs to support federal data policy

Big Data word graphic

WHAT: "Accelerating Data Innovation: A Legislative Agenda for Congress" from the Center for Data Innovation at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

WHY: As the Obama administration winds down, Congress has an opportunity to enshrine elements of its open data policy into law, to make sure the federal government maintains its commitment to regularly publishing agency data sets online. In addition to codifying open data, the authors of the report have a slate of 11 recommendations for Congress to modernize its data posture. A few of these are going to be controversial. A plan to require that all regulatory data submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission be in machine readable XBRL format has opposition among some in Congress who see the move as burden for smaller companies. A plan to create a universal patient identifier to eliminate the problem of patient matching in electronic health records originally called for under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was actually banned in subsequent appropriations legislation. Other ideas would likely prove popular, including a plan to improve coastline mapping, and a measure to coordinate the management of geospatial data across agencies.

VERBATIM: "Congress should pass legislation that explicitly defines publishing open data as the official responsibility of federal agencies. To fully secure the benefits of open data for the public and businesses, such legislation should codify the data stewardship and publishing requirement put forth by the Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive and related executive actions; establish high standards for the accuracy and timeliness of government data; store this data in non-proprietary formats to make it as accessible as possible; and apply these rules to all government contractors and quasi-governmental agencies."

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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