OPEN Government Data Act moves to Senate floor after markup

By: Jonathan Haggerty 

Legislation requiring federal agencies to publish their data online in a searchable, nonproprietary, machine-readable format has been cleared for the Senate following a May 17 markup by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, S. 760, the Open Public Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act is identical to an earlier Schatz bill that passed the Senate unanimously last year after analysis by the Congressional Budget Office determined it wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money.

What it would do is modernize government agencies and increase their effectiveness, while also allowing taxpayers to see how their money is spent. For these reasons, R Street joined more than 80 organizations—including trade groups, businesses and other civil-society organizations—in urging the Senate committee to pass these badly needed reforms.

The status quo makes it difficult for engaged citizens to view the spending data of the agencies they fund. A taxpayer interested in viewing the companies and organizations that receive federal grants and contract awards would need to have a license for the proprietary Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS). Dun & Bradstreet Inc., the company that owns DUNS, functions as a monopoly with respect to government contractor data.

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Three years in, what does the DATA Act tell us about agency spending?

By: C. Jarrett Dieterle  Trying to figure out exactly how much money the federal government spends long has been an exercise in futility for those few brave souls who endeavor to try it. Though the U.S. Treasury has published financial data since the beginning of the republic, the government has an uneven history, to say […]

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Congressmen reintroduce bill to make CRS reports public

By Jonathan Haggarty The Government Publishing Office would be required to make Congressional Research Service reports publicly accessible over the internet, under legislation reintroduced last week by Reps. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., and Mike Quigley, D-Ill. The CRS, a division of the Library of Congress, is known as Congress’ in-house “think tank.” House offices and committees […]

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Alex Pollock: Data Transparency and Multiple Perspectives

At Data Coalition‘s Financial Data Summit in March, Alex Pollock, distinguished senior fellow with the R Street Institute, former president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, provided the plenary address. These are Mr. Pollock’s remarks as prepared for delivery. One question underlying the very interesting data project and proposed legislation we are considering today is the relationship […]

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GovTrack testimony to the House of Representatives on public access to legislative information

Everything that our government does starts with an “appropriation” that sets a funding level for it. When Congress sets funding levels for the government as a whole, it also sets funding levels for itself to pay congressional staff, the Capitol police, to maintain the office buildings, and so on. (It’s about 0.1% of the total […]

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Library of Congress, National Archives Host Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

On Friday, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and Wikimedia D.C. hosted an Edit-a-Thon, focused on updating committee information on Wikipedia. This is the second such event, and the first to be hosted at the Library of Congress.

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Whip Watch 2.0

On Thursday, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer launched Whip Watch 2.0, a free app that provides the public (and congressional staffers) a real-time mobile view into the Democrats’ whip operation. In addition to all the neat features we wrote about when Whip Watch first launched in June 2015, it allows users to see vote totals, including vote […]

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Upcoming Tech and Congress Events

#HouseOfCode Clear your schedule Tuesday, April 4th, from 4:30-7:30 to celebrate the accomplishments of 123 Members of Congress who participated in the 2016 Congressional App Challenge. Located at the Rayburn House Office Building, this reception and demo day will feature remarks from Reps. Goodlatte, Eshoo, Royce, and Moulton. RSVP here! CodeX FutureLaw 2017 On April […]

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The House Rules Should be Publicly Available in Advance of Their Adoption

At the start of the 115th Congress, there was a fight over whether the Office of Congressional Ethics should continue its existence. I won’t get into the merits of the disagreement here (although I’ve written about it elsewhere), but how it occurred is interesting. The Office of Congressional Ethics is one of the many offices and […]

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The House of Representatives Orders Seconds on Legislative Transparency

Once again, at the start of the 115th Congress, the House of Representatives included an order in its rules package in support of public access to legislative information. (m) BROADENING AVAILABILITY OF LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENTS IN MACHINE-READABLE FORMATS.—The Committee on House Administration, the Clerk, and other officers and officials of the House shall continue efforts to […]

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