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What one #opengov advocate has to say about DC’s new Draft Open Data Policy

Joshua Tauberer analyzed D.C.'s new open data policy in a Medium post this week, finding both cause for celebration and concern.

Civic hackers at Open Data Day DC 2015 in February. (Photo by Lalita Clozel)

Last week, D.C. gov unveiled a new Draft Open Data Policy. In the interest of openness, the proposed Mayoral order was debuted on a revamped Drafts.dc.gov site where anyone can go read and comment on it.
And according to D.C. Director of Technology Innovation Matt Bailey, conversation and debate is going strong:
https://twitter.com/MattBailey0/status/689959749866102786
Some, however, took stock of their opinions elsewhere.
Joshua Tauberer, creator of GovTrack and steadfast open gov advocate, took to Medium to give a rundown on the proposed legislation.
In his informative post Tauberer says there are two things he considers when assessing an piece of open data policy. From his post:

  1. Is the policy true to the spirit of open data? Does it provide for the publication of government data that enables the public to learn about government operations, analyze performance, build tools to improve life for residents, and better hold the government accountable?

  2. Does carrying out the policy teach government staff that it’s OK to be open? i.e. Will staff begin to view transparency as an obligation and not first and foremost a liability? Will they learn that respect and collaboration with the public produces better outcomes? Will they embed equitability into their practices?

So how does D.C.’s draft policy stack up?
Read the full post
Tauberer finds both cause for celebration and concern. For example, he praises the fact that the policy “directs the creation of guidance” that would open up data created by government contractors.
“Because a substantial amount of government data is created by contracted private vendors, creating contracting guidance so that open data can be a part of these projects from the start is perhaps the single most powerful part of the draft open data policy,” he writes.
However, Tauberer goes on to express concern about certain exemptions and restrictions to open data or the use of open data that the draft policy invites.
Apparently, “the District has long called its data ‘open’ while simultaneously adding capricious restrictions on how the public can use the data.”
In short, Tauberer has a lot of thoughts on the proposed Policy. Good thing he’s now part of the mayor’s Open Government Advisory Board.

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