White House Signs Executive Order in Favor of Open, Machine Readable Government Data


On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order that requires information generated by the Federal Government to be made available to the public in an open and machine readable format. Citing successful initiatives to support open GPS and weather data, the Executive Order states that “making information resources easy to find, accessible, and usable can fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific discovery that improves Americans’ lives and contributes significantly to job creation.”

The Executive Order proclaims that in order to “promote continued job growth, government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening government data to the public, the default state of new modernized government information resources shall be open and machine readable.”

To support this new directive, the Office of Management and Budget has released an Open Data Policy. This document provides a six month exploration period during which all federal agencies must redefine their current practices in favor of a standardized system that supports the interoperability and accessibility of the data they produce. New standards include the use of extensible metadata that details linked data, geographic location, relationships between datasets, and other relevant information. Agencies are responsible for maintaining a balance between the availability of data and issues of confidentiality, privacy, and national security as described in the Open Government Directive of 2009.

In order to support these efforts, the website Project Open Data provides tools, code, and resources for use by federal agencies (and the American public) in implementing best practices for managing the lifecycle of government data.

Also published today, Open Data Highlights describes the Obama Administration’s commitment to issues of open government, exploring continuing efforts in creating open and machine readable data in the realms of health, energy, educations, safety, finance, and global development.