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Open Government Data

Goal Header

Open government data to promote efficiency, effectiveness, and economic growth.

Goal Statement

Unlock the value of government data as a national asset by adopting a management approach that inventories and prioritizes the opening of agency information resources through user engagement across agencies, entrepreneurs, and the public.  Making information resources easy to find, accessible, and useable not only promotes transparency and accountability, but improves government efficiency and effectiveness and fuels entrepreneurship and innovation, contributing to job creation and economic growth.  (Currently outlining open data principles agencies will follow, the goal will be further refined to include a measurable and time-bound goal statement and with specific metrics as new Cross-Agency Priority Goals are developed with the FY 2015 Budget.)

Brief Goal Description

Openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth.  Open government datai have taken many forms, from product safety recalls to hospital charges for common inpatient services.  Making information resources easy to find, accessible, and useable can fuel innovative solutions to our toughest problems, catalyze job growth, and enable socially beneficial research and services. 

The impact of open government data can be felt in the daily lives of the American people.  In 1987 the Federal Government began to make the Global Positioning System (GPS) freely available to the public, a decision which has fueled a vast array of private sector innovations ranging from navigation systems to precision crop-farming.  Similarly, decades ago the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began making weather data available for free public electronic download.  Entrepreneurs used the data to create weather newscasts, websites, mobile applications, insurance products, and more, generating billions of dollars in new revenue. 

Agencies across the Federal Government are making significant progress in improving the management of information resources to increase interoperability and openness, which are critical to increasing government effectiveness and efficiency.  Building on the Digital Government Strategy,ii the President’s Executive Order of May 9, 2013, Making Open and Machine-readable the New Default for Government Information,iii declared the default state of new and modernized government information resources as open and machine readable.  The Open Data Policy, OMB Memorandum M-13-13 Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset, ivestablished requirements to open government data, to the extent permitted by law, while ensuring strict controls to safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security.

The Open Data Policy requirements establish a management approach that values information as an asset throughout its life cycle, designed to transform the collection and use of government data to better serve citizens.  In addition to building or modernizing information resources to maximize interoperability and information accessibility, agencies must maintain internal and external data inventories, enhance information safeguards, engage users for input, and clarify information management responsibilities.

The Chief Performance Officer and the President’s Management Council established this Open Data Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal to track implementation of the Open Data Policy and accelerate value derived from open government data.  The Open Data CAP Goal creates a baseline for all Federal agencies to achieve minimum standards required in the Open Data Policy and Executive Order and leverages agency innovation to engage consumers and derive value from open data.

Goal Leader(s)

Goal Leader:

Steven VanRoekel, US Chief Information Officer (US CIO), White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Deputy Goal Leaders:

Dominic Sale, Supervisory Policy Analyst, White House Office of Management and Budget, Office of E-Government and Information Technology

Nick Sinai, US Deputy Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Summary of Strategies

The Open Data CAP Goal establishes requirements across the Federal government to motivate and track the impact of open data on government efficiency, effectiveness, and economic growth. Opening government data and engaging with the public and broader open data ecosystem in prioritizing the most valuable data for release can stimulate innovation and contribute to economic growth.  Public engagement also enables the government to benefit from the increasing sophistication of data-driven tools and business models of key leaders and entrepreneurs in the open data movement to improve government efficiency and effectiveness.  To increase discoverability and accelerate access to valuable open government data, the Open Data CAP Goal is comprised of a series of objectives outlining open data discoverability. 



Increase discoverability and accelerate access to valuable government data

  1. Develop and maintain an Enterprise Data Inventory
  2. To effectively manage government-wide open data efforts, agencies must have a clear and comprehensive understanding of what information resources exist.  All federal agencies are required to develop an internal Enterprise Data Inventory that accounts for all datasets used in the agency’s information systems, to the extent practicable.  Progress on this requirement will be reported through the Open Data CAP goal and subject to OMB oversight.  Today, agencies have varying levels of visibility into their data assets, and it is recognized that the size and maturity of agencies’ data inventories differ across agencies.  Since it is understood that the inventory will be built out over time and the amount of data included in the Enterprise Data Inventory will increase due to the creation of new data assets, agencies will be required to continually strive toward a complete Enterprise Data Inventory.

  3. Make data discoverable to the public
  4. To educate the public on what data assets are available and open, the Open Data Policy requires agencies to improve the discoverability and usability of data assets and publicly communicate open data progress.  All federal agencies must develop an external Public Data Listing, to the extent practicable, which publishes a list of all datasets that are or could be made available to the public at www.[agency].gov/data pages.  This list should be a subset of an agency’s Enterprise Data Inventory.  The public will be able to view agencies’ Public Data Listings and subsequent progress as additional datasets are published.

    The upcoming relaunch of,i the main website that can be used to find datasets generated and held by the Federal Government, will improve the user experience of finding, downloading, and using government data.  The new will automatically aggregate agency-managed data catalog listings into one centralized location by topic, based on the use of common core metadata standards and tagging, which will improve search and the user experience accessing government data.

  5. Prioritize and release valuable data through public engagement
  6. Opening government data can unlock great value in datasets.  Identifying and engaging with key data consumers to help determine the value of the multitude of federal datasets can help agencies prioritize those of highest value for quickest release, where appropriate.  All Federal agencies will be required to solicit public input and reflect on how to incorporate consumer feedback into their data management practices.  Agencies may develop criteria at their discretion for prioritizing the opening of data assets, accounting for a range of factors, such as the quantity and substance of user demand, internal management priorities, and agency mission relevance.  As consumer feedback mechanisms and internal prioritization criteria will likely evolve over time and vary across agencies, agencies should share successful innovations in incorporating consumer feedback through interagency working groups and Project Open Data to disseminate best practices.

  7. Prevent inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information
  8. The Open Data Policy requires agencies to strengthen measures to ensure that privacy and confidentiality are fully protected and that data are properly secured.  In particular, agencies must develop policies and processes that allow only the appropriate data to be made available publicly.  Agencies should work with their Senior Agency Official for Privacy and other relevant officials, for example the Senior Agency Official for Freedom of Information Act, to ensure that the agency conducts a complete analysis of issues related to privacy, confidentiality, security, trade secrets, contractual agreements, and any other issues that could preclude public disclosure of information collected or created.  If an agency determines that data should not be made publicly available, the agency must document the determination in consultation with their Office of General Counsel or equivalent.

  9. Assign roles and responsibilities to strengthen the culture of data management
  10. Managing information as an asset will increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs, improve services, support mission needs, and increase public awareness of valuable government information.  Agencies should, when necessary, clarify the roles and responsibilities of Chief Information Officers, in particular their responsibility for promoting the effective and efficient design and operation of all major Information Resource Management processes within their agency as well as clarifying roles and responsibilities for promoting efficient and effective data release practices.  In addition to ensuring that data released to the public are open and designating a point of contact to assist in open data use, agencies must communicate the strategic value of open data to internal stakeholders and the public as well as engage entrepreneurs and innovators across sectors to encourage the use of agency data.  Agency staff must also work with agency components to scale best practices from bureaus and offices that excel in open data practices across the enterprise.


This Open Data CAP Goal is being developed under the direction of the US Chief Information Officer in coordination with the White House Office of Management and Budget, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC) in partnership with senior policy officials, agency officials, and members of the public.  Under the direction of the US CIO, Federal agencies will work to comply with the requirements in the Open Data Executive Order and the Open Data Policy memorandum around information management practices, meeting implementation milestones outlined in the Open Data CAP Goal.

Open Data CAP Goal implementation will be led by the CAP Goal leader and coordinated across multiple stakeholders, and progress will be assessed at least quarterly through existing internal review, reporting mechanisms and public-facing engagement tools.  Project Open Dataii serves as an open online repository of tools and best practices to assist agencies in integrating the Open Data Policy into their operations. 

Cross-agency coordination includes established bodies such as the President’s Management Council (PMC), the Performance Improvement Council (PIC), the Federal CIO Council and associated interagency working groups, which serve to support and operationalize specific work streams within the CAP Goal.  Working group sessions throughout the year will focus on policy and technical decisions.

Measuring successful implementation requires both quantitative and qualitative information due to varying stages of information management maturity across agencies and the evolving nature of successful consumer engagement.  The milestones and metrics, to be developed, reflect a cultural shift in data management that institutionalizes processes and systems to regularly inventory, open, improve, and derive value from government data.  Agencies are encouraged to develop their own process innovations, management practices, and working groups for long-term change.

OMB and OSTP will continue to work with experts across the government, private sector, academia, and civil society to develop and iterate metrics for open data impact measurement based on iterative learning and experimentation.  New feedback, best practices, and overall expertise may be incorporated into the development of future Open Data CAP Goal objectives, milestones, and metrics.  As such, it is expected that initial milestones and metrics may be adjusted or supplemented in future Open Data CAP Goal updates.