Data.gov at Ten and the OPEN Government Data Act

This May marks the tenth anniversary of Data.gov, the federal government’s open data site. Launched by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in May 2009 with a modest 47 datasets, Data.gov has grown to over 200,000 datasets from hundreds of data sources including federal agencies, states, counties, and cities. Data.gov set the example for other open government data catalogs, with hundreds of other countries, states, and cities around the world launching their own open government data sites since 2009.

Data.gov provides easy access to government datasets covering a wide range of topics—everything from weather, demographics, health, education, housing, and agriculture. The data is used by the public, students, researchers, journalists, and businesses. Usage of Data.gov has grown steadily over the years, reaching approximately 20 million page views annually.

Data.gov’s tenth anniversary coincides with a major change in the program. On January 14, 2019, the OPEN Government Data Act, as part of the Foundations for Evidence Based Policymaking Act, became law. The OPEN Government Data Act makes Data.gov a requirement in statute, rather than a policy. It requires federal agencies to publish their information online as open data, using standardized, machine-readable data formats, with their metadata included in the Data.gov catalog. Data.gov is working with an expanded group of federal agencies to include their datasets in Data.gov as they implement the new law. In addition, the law requires that GSA work with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Government Information Services to establish an “online repository of tools, best practices, and schema standards to facilitate the adoption of open data practices across the Federal Government.” This new repository, which will be an update and expansion of Project Open Data, will also be available on Data.gov.

Data.gov marks its tenth anniversary with a strong foundation in a new statutory requirement and expectations for an expanded scope with data from additional federal agencies and for sharing updated tools and resources in a new online repository. Opening more data will continue to ensure that the best sources of information are accessible to the public and support the goals of an open and transparent government.

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