President Obama Signs New Open Data Executive Order

Mike O'Brien

President Obama on Thursday signed an Executive Order that takes a major step forward in making government-held data more accessible to the public.

The Open Data Executive Order declares that information is a valuable resource and strategic asset for the nation, stressing that it can be a fuel for innovation and economic growth.

The order coincides with the release today of a new Open Data Policy, brought in by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget.

Related: Pooling the Resources: The Dynamics of Data Center Consolidation

From now on, all newly-generated government data will be required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, greatly enhancing their accessibility and usefulness, while ensuring privacy and security.

Mr. Obama signed the order as he headed to Austin, Texas, for a Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. He was scheduled to meet with technology entrepreneurs who are hiring workers with cutting-edge skills and creating the tools and products that will drive America’s long term economic growth.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel announced the order in an articlefor the White House’s official website.


They wrote: "Since the earliest days of this Administration, the Federal Government has taken unprecedented steps to make government data more available to citizens, companies, and innovators.

"Through the platform, which launched in 2009, users can access government datasets about a wide array of topics. Thousands of datasets have already been added to and more than half-a-million data downloads have occurred in the last year alone, and we’re working to make the site even better."

They said that agencies have already been hard at work unlocking valuable data from the vaults of part of the Administration’s Digital Government Strategy and Open Data Initiatives in health, energy, education, public safety, finance, and global development.

Related: The Challenges of Data Overload for Government

The Department of Health and Human Services released on Wednesday new data on fees that hospitals charge, which they cite as a major step in creating greater price transparency.

Mr. Park and Mr. VanRoekel wrote: "We’ve also collaborated with the private and nonprofit sectors through a series of White House datajams and datapaloozas to help spark activity by entrepreneurs and innovators to use open data to build new products, services, and innovations.

"As a result, there are private companies using open data to fight credit card fraud; consumers using open data to save on their energy bills; families leveraging open data to compare health care options; and a host of new apps and tools in areas ranging from public safety, to financial planning, to education, and more."

The government's handling of data will be discussed at IDGA's Data Analytics for Government event in July. For more details, go to

Watch Mr. Park, and Mr. VanRoekel, discuss the importance of President Obama's executive order in an official video below.