Friday marked the first set of deadlines for agencies set by the Open Government Directive – and the White House has delivered the first set of data sets from agencies. The new data sets represent all cabinet-level departments, from tire safety ratings to workplace injury data.
It's hard to decide what a "high value data set" is, exactly. For some, data about contracts is most important, or information about FOIA requests. Maybe for the agency employees, the menu in the cafeteria is the most useful data set. It does look like there are a number of very useful data sets here and we are interested to see what people do with the National Treasures data set. Of course, there are some data sets that are clearly high value to the public. Hopefully, this is the start of a process to release all the data sets that are valuable, no matter how valuable or to whom. By releasing data, it will become clear that the information is valuable in ways not yet imagined – and if the information is valuable enough for the agency to maintain the data set, it is likely to be useful to the public as well. We are looking forward to seeing, as well, how agencies ensure that valuable data sets can be released while avoiding stumbling blocks like releasing private information. We are pleased that the OGD team and agencies have spent so much time trying to solve these dilemmas in order to make information public.
Of course, there are other deadlines today in the OGD – designating a senior official to oversee data quality on Federal spending and the creation of a working group on transparency – but this is the first publicized progress.
We're excited to see that this (relatively simple) requirement of the OGD was met, and we're doubly excited to know that this is just a starting point. Three data sets from each agency are clearly not the end goal – but at least everyone is thinking about what they want to put up on data.gov.