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Open Data: Empowering Americans to Make Data-Driven Decisions

OSTP looks back on progress made in open-data initiatives over the past year, and goals for the coming year.

Today, students are able to compare the cost of college with other significant data points, such as graduation rates and average salaries of graduates to determine where to get the most bang for their buck. Communities can finally map demographic, income, and school data to promote Fair Housing. Patients can find information on the safety and cost of hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians, empowering them to make smarter health care choices. These diverse tools benefit different groups of people, industries, and communities, yet all rely on one thing: open data.

Open data from the U.S. Government is an important national resource, serving as fuel for innovation and scientific discovery. It is central to a more efficient, transparent, and collaborative democracy. Since President Obama’s first day in office, his commitment to ensuring all Americans reap the benefits of public open data has been unwavering. Throughout the Administration, the U.S. Government has implemented policies to open its data, including:

2015 was a year of great advancement in open data initiatives. Progress on Project Open Data has been growing each year, and is expected to continue as the Administration continues to prioritize open data because of the value returned to society. Federal agencies continue to release and improve their open data for more citizens, non-profits, and companies. You can see how agencies are doing over time, with quarterly evaluations by agency on the Project Open Data Dashboard.

As we look towards the work to be done in 2016, we also celebrate open data milestones and successes over the past year:

President Obama with members of the CTO's office and U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott
President Obama with Chief Technology Officer team members Ryan Panchadsaram and Corinna Zarek, and U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott viewing

One common denominator of these successes is that open data is a collaborative process, involving Federal government, state and local governments, academia, private sectors, and civil society. It takes a village to transform open data into actionable knowledge and societal value. Like data science, open data is a team sport, united by the shared purpose to responsibly unleash the power of data for the benefit of the American public and maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data. Together in 2016 and beyond, “Team Open Data” will continue transforming open data into knowledge, into action.

Data Graphic
(Graphic credit: Radhika Bhatt, U.S. Department of Commerce Data Service)

Open data remains a priority in 2016, offering both government and citizens information to make better decisions and a way for Americans to interact with their government. For upcoming events related to open data, please check out the calendar. 

Kristen Honey is a Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.