Yesterday, May 9, 2013, the U.S. government issued an executive order and an open data policy mandating that federal agencies collect and publish new datasets in open, machine-readable, and, whenever possible, non-proprietary formats. The new policy gives agencies six months to create an inventory of all the government-produced datasets they collect and maintain; a list of datasets that are publicly accessible; and an online system to collect feedback from the public as to how they would like to use the data. The goals are twofold — greater access to government data for the public, and the availability of data in forms that businesses and researchers can better use. This builds on the earlier White House Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.
These documents were accompanied by a link to something that actually caught my fancy even more – a greatly expanded Project Open Data Github repository for guidelines, use cases and tools. This, alongside the ever-growing (and soon to be extensively updated) data.gov, are evidence of real efforts to release more data and make it truly useful and usable.