Big Day for Open DATA


The Federal Government has taken a big step towards reforming the way it buys, uses, maintains, and publishes data with the unanimous passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency or DATA Act.

The bipartisan measure, which now goes to President Obama for his signature, would open up the way we track spending across government agencies, and was sponsored originally in the House by Oversight and Reform by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD). A companion Senate measure was sponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

What does this mean in practice? Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition, explained what the DATA act will do for government transparency in Forbes earlier this month:

If the DATA Act is fully enforced, citizens will be able to track government spending on a particular contractor or from a particular program, payment by payment. Agencies will be able to deploy sophisticated Big Data analytics to illuminate, and eliminate, waste and fraud. And states and universities will be able to automate their complex federal grant reporting tasks, freeing up more tax dollars for their intended use.

This sort of transparency in government allows ordinary citizens to better track how government is using technology, and it will also allow government to better source information technology projects, and understand how tax dollars are being spent in an effort to streamline those multifaceted processes.

Of course, there will also be benefits for the startup community. Understanding how government money is being spent could make it easier for our most innovative companies to break through the procurement process.

We applaud the work of Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings, Senators Warner and Portman, and everyone else who helped shepherd this vital legislation through the Congress. We look forward to continued efforts to leverage data in productive ways.