Big Open Data: Sunlight Foundation Gets U.S. Gov to Release Indexes of Federal Data, OMB Will Comply With FOIA Request
For the first time, the United States government has agreed to release what we believe to be the largest index of government data in the world.
On Friday, the Sunlight Foundation received a letter from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) outlining how they plan to comply with our FOIA request from December 2013 for agency Enterprise Data Inventories. EDIs are comprehensive lists of a federal agency’s information holdings, providing an unprecedented view into data held internally across the government. Our FOIA request was submitted 14 months ago.
These lists of the government’s data were not public, however, until now. More than a year after Sunlight’s FOIA request and with a lawsuit initiated by Sunlight about to be filed, we’re finally going to see what data the government holds.
We view this release as a significant victory for the open government and open data movement. Creating a more complete picture of the government’s data holdings is a longstanding priority for the Sunlight Foundation, and is broadly considered a big step toward open data policies that transform how governments work.
There’s no guarantee that agencies’ indexes will contain all the data that it should (because they are iterative, living documents, many of which are still in various stages of construction). Still, this announcement makes a huge step forward: Rather than wondering what data the government has, we are all now in the position of policing how completely agencies are indexing their data, deciding what to publish and determining why some data cannot be public.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.