Why is Federal Government Data Disappearing?

February 21, 2017

The White House recently deleted all of the data on its open data portal, which served as a public clearinghouse for data on everything from federal budgets to climate change initiatives, writes Josh New in The Hill. This is a red flag, since for eight years, the Obama White House championed the practice of making government data freely available to the public in order to promote transparency and accountability, to serve as a resource for researchers, and to allow innovators to create new tools and services that spur economic activity and solve social problems. While the Trump administration has not yet signaled that it will oppose open data across the federal government, its silence on the issue suggests that open data may not receive the same level of priority it has in the past. In sharp contrast, President Obama declared a “new era of openness” on his first full day in office and directed federal agencies to be more transparent. Rather than wait for the Trump administration to change course, Congress should move quickly to adopt the bipartisan OPEN Data Act and permanently codify an open data policy for the U.S. government.