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OPEN Government Data Act  

The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act provides a sweeping, government-wide mandate for federal agencies to publish all their information as open data – using standardized, non-proprietary formats. The OPEN Government Data Act builds on President Obama’s May 2013 Open Data Policy. It makes the key aspects of the Open Data Policy permanent.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan on the House Floor delivering remarks on the passage of Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act) (H.R. 4174).

Download Section-by-Section Summary


The OPEN Government Data Act sets an official presumption that “Government data assets made available by an agency shall be published as machine-readable data…in an open format, and…under open licenses.”

It would make a federal agency’s failure to utilize open data legally questionable. The legislation will provide a powerful tool for open data reforms in every area of the government’s information portfolio.

The OPEN Government Data Act also requires agencies to maintain, and publish, a comprehensive data inventory of all data assets. The data inventory will help agencies and open data advocates identify key government information resources and transform them from documents and siloed databases into open data.

The OPEN Government Data Act’s lead sponsors are Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6-D), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).


On November 15th, 2017 for the first time, the OPEN Government Data Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The House unanimously approved the bill under suspension of the rules. The OPEN Government Data Act is included as Title II in Speaker Ryan’s Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act) (H.R. 4174).

Earlier in the 115th Congress, a slightly modified bill was reintroduced in both the House (H.R. 1770) and Senate (S. 760) on March 29th, 2017 with identical text. On May 17th, 2017 the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill for consideration on the Senate floor. On September 28, 2017, the Senate passed a revised version of the OPEN Government Data Act as an amendment to Sen. John McCain’s (AZ-R) Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 2810). The measure was ultimately removed from the defense package in the joint conferencing committee process. The Data Coalition and numerous policy partners are working to convince the Senate to again take renewed action on the House-passed version of the OPEN Government Data Act in the Speaker’s Evidence Act package (H.R. 4174).

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