Minimizing Disclosure Risk in HHS Open Data Initiatives. 2. Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information


Executive Order 13642, issued by President Obama on May 9, 2013, calls for a shift in the default policy in federal agencies toward that of free public access to information. The order describes government information as an asset, the dissemination of which is likely to create new jobs, provide inspiration for entrepreneurship, and stimulate the American economy. The order calls for the adoption of an Open Data Policy, as outlined in the OMB memorandum issued on the same day.

To ensure government-wide implementation of the Open Data Policy, the order directs all executive departments and government agencies to complete four actions in accordance with specified deadlines. First, within 30 days of the issuance of the Open Data Policy, the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Technology Officer must publish an online resource to assist agencies in their efforts to implement open data policies. Second, within 90 days, top government councils in governmental information (for example, the Chief Information Officers Council, the Federal Records Council) shall initiate implementation of measures to integrate the Open Data Policy requirements into federal acquisition and grant-making. Third, also within the 90 day time frame, the Chief Performance Officer must establish a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal to set metrics and milestones for agencies to follow. Fourth, within 180 days the agencies must report their progress in implementing the CAP Goal, with quarterly reporting thereafter.

The order acknowledges multiple times that agencies must continue to safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security, incorporating a full analysis of risks to each of these at each stage of the information life cycle so that information that should not be released can be identified.

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