Improving Government Operations One Open Data Mandate at a Time

Open data mandates and federal records management are becoming more of a prominent issue on the government’s research agenda. With so much data and information the government brings in on a daily basis, it’s imperative that agencies stay organized.

According to Hudson Hollister, Founder and Executive Director of Data Transparency Coalition, “Open data mandates and federal records management are really about the same thing. But the White House and Congress don’t realize that yet.”

In GovLoop’s recent online training, Do You Know Your Data, topic experts discussed what open data mandates and federal records management are and how open data can improve government operations. Open data mandates are policies or laws established to allow the public access and use of certain data. Federal records management is as it sounds – rules and regulations adopted for federal government documents that agencies must uphold.

So, why do we need federal mandates and records management? “The federal government is the largest and most complex organization in human history. The federal government is so huge it requires mandates to keep track of information,” said Hollister.

Currently, the federal government is using two mandates to keep track of information, and one is in the process of being approved by Congress.

The mandates include:

1) The Open Data Policy. This policy requires government agencies to make more of their information and data open to the public. It states that government agencies must collect or create information in a way that supports downstream information processing and dissemination activities. It also requires that they build information systems that have consistent formats so it’s possible to connect information to other information. Agencies must also strengthen security measures to ensure privacy and confidentiality is fully protected.

2) The Data Act. It is an open data mandate that requires the standardization and publication of information. This act requires the legislative branch to set up consistent data formats for spending and requires agencies to use those consistent data standards when they report spending.

3) The Financial Transparency Act. Today, financial regulatory information isn’t accessible across agencies. This act would require the eight financial regulatory agencies – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve System, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, National Credit Union Administration, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Housing Finance Agency – to adopt consistent data standards for all the information they collect under the Securities Laws, the Commodities Clause and the Banking Act. Having this information operable in the same format would allow people to track down information from all agency servers using analytics and reporting would be much cheaper.

These mandates are a large piece of the solution to open data. To learn more about open data and data mandates, view the training on-demand here.


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George P. Hemstreet III, M.D., Ph.D.

There is a desperate need to share medical records with other authorized medical organizations caring for the American Veteran. There are many deaths every years because of the Lack of easy access to medical records. This must become a top priority for sharing Veteran electronic medical records with Veteran Consent and without consent during Emergent Hospital Admissions.