Merrick Garland Orders More Open Access to Government Documents – WSJ

“Attorney General Merrick Garland directed federal agencies to “apply a presumption of openness” when fulfilling Freedom of Information Act requests, after lawmakers pressed him to increase transparency as the denial rate for such inquiries has risen in recent years.

Information that might be considered exempted from release shouldn’t be withheld unless an agency can identify a “foreseeable harm or legal bar to disclosure,” Mr. Garland said in a memo Tuesday….”

Merrick Garland Orders More Open Access to Government Documents – WSJ

“Attorney General Merrick Garland directed federal agencies to “apply a presumption of openness” when fulfilling Freedom of Information Act requests, after lawmakers pressed him to increase transparency as the denial rate for such inquiries has risen in recent years.

Information that might be considered exempted from release shouldn’t be withheld unless an agency can identify a “foreseeable harm or legal bar to disclosure,” Mr. Garland said in a memo Tuesday….”

New Project Will Unlock Access to Government Publications on Microfiche – Internet Archive Blogs

“Government documents from microfiche are coming to based on the combined efforts of the Internet Archive, Stanford University Libraries, and other library partners. The resulting files will be available for free public access to enable new analysis and access techniques. 

Microfiche cards, which contain miniaturized thumbnails of the publication’s pages, are starting to be digitized and matched to catalog records by the Internet Archive. Once in a digital format and preserved on, these documents will be searchable and downloadable by anyone with an Internet connection, since U.S. government publications are in the public domain….

The collection includes reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Department of Interior, and other government agencies from the 1970s to the present. There are also transcripts of congressional hearings and other Congressional material that contain discussion of potential laws or issues of concern to the public, Jacobs said….

Microfiche is not a format that can be easily read without using a machine in a library building. Many members of the public are not aware of the material available on microfiche so the potential for finding and using them is heightened once these documents are digitized. And as the information is shared with other federal depository libraries, there will be a ripple effect for researchers, academics, students, and the general public in gaining access….”

The FBI Is Hiding an Unpublished Police Use-of-Force Database From FOIA Requesters

“For the past several years, the FBI has been trying to collect information from police departments around the country on their use of force, but it has yet to publish any reports or statistics based on that data because of lackluster participation from law enforcement. Now, a civil rights group says the FBI and Justice Department are stonewalling its attempts to get the underlying reports submitted to the program.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has been trying to obtain raw reports from law enforcement agencies submitted to the FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection program. However, the FBI has rejected its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and the Justice Department has denied the Leadership Conference’s appeal.”

Plan to Advance Data Innovation

“Executive Order 13994 on Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future HighConsequence Public Health Threats calls for development of an improved public health infrastructure to effectively prevent, detect, and respond to future biological threats. Section 4 of the Executive order tasks the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to “develop a plan for advancing innovation in public health data and analytics in the United States.” The Office of Science and Technology Policy formed a National Science and Technology Council Fast Track Action Committee to develop this plan to enhance data innovation and to ensure that epidemiological modeling and forecasting can support preparedness for and response to highconsequence biological threats, in particular respiratory pathogens. This plan also encourages the development of new and innovative thinking about data sources and their applications, and identifies mechanisms for data innovation that should be applied to public health data needs outside of epidemiological modeling, such as needs in maternal health, mental health, veterans health, and other areas. The objectives and policy recommendations in this plan were designed to guide the new National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics and support contributors and users of robust data sources across multiple sectors. The plan is structured around a four-element data life cycle framework composed of data inputs and acquisition, data management, data use and analysis, and data outputs, including interpretation and communication….

2.1 Create infrastructure for data storage, management, access, and protection. Utilizing the process developed in 1.4, infrastructure should be developed to support the storage, management, and protection of data from diverse sources. This infrastructure should enable all contributors and users to submit or access data in accordance with transparent access controls, further enabling data sharing and creating a data environment that is as open as possible, which is critical to promoting innovation….”

Karnataka’s open data access: At what cost? | Deccan Herald

“The policy aims to achieve three overarching goals management and interoperability of data across government departments; defining processes and standards for enabling proactive, open access to government data for research, innovation and evidence-based governance; and promoting monetisation of anonymised citizen data. The move comes in the context of the Economic Survey of India, 2019, recommendations to monetise citizen data to facilitate the use of data as a “public good”.

The policy calls for sharing anonymised citizen data which could pose grave privacy threats through the risk of de-anonymisation. The data ownership concept adopted in the policy makes the state government department that processes the data its owner. In practice and policy, the state is considered the fiduciary or custodian of citizen data and should act in their best interests. As advocated by the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, and the Non-personal Data Governance Framework (NPD), 2020, the ultimate ownership of data lies with the individuals and communities who help produce it. Lastly, the data monetisation aspect of the policy is problematic for its lack of transparency, potential to prop up private data monopolies and lack of clarity on pricing mechanisms….”

Enhancing transparency through open government data: the case of data portals and their features and capabilities | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to draw on evidence from computer-mediated transparency and examine the argument that open government data and national data infrastructures represented by open data portals can help in enhancing transparency by providing various relevant features and capabilities for stakeholders’ interactions.


The developed methodology consisted of a two-step strategy to investigate research questions. First, a web content analysis was conducted to identify the most common features and capabilities provided by existing national open data portals. The second step involved performing the Delphi process by surveying domain experts to measure the diversity of their opinions on this topic.


Identified features and capabilities were classified into categories and ranked according to their importance. By formalizing these feature-related transparency mechanisms through which stakeholders work with data sets we provided recommendations on how to incorporate them into designing and developing open data portals.

Social implications

The creation of appropriate open data portals aims to fulfil the principles of open government and enables stakeholders to effectively engage in the policy and decision-making processes.


By analyzing existing national open data portals and validating the feature-related transparency mechanisms, this paper fills this gap in existing literature on designing and developing open data portals for transparency efforts.

On a Mission to Make Federal Data Sets More Useful and Accessible | SPARC

Although government agencies manage massive amounts of information, there is little known about exactly how it is used and by whom: Turns out, there is little data on federal data.

A new effort is underway to leverage artificial intelligence to better track what research is being done with what data. Ultimately, it could result in a data usage scorecard that could make it easier for researchers to find who else has used datasets in similar research, enabling them to reproduce results, advance science, and support government in the push to evidence-based decision making.

“Currently, the only way to find which databases have been used is to try and figure it out from reading  publications – and there are millions,” said Julia Lane, co-founder of the Coleridge Initiative, a nonprofit started in 2018 as a spin off from New York University, where Lane is on faculty. 

By building a modern machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) approach to find what datasets are used in what publications, agencies can break down barriers to the access and use of public data. “The approach could demonstrate the value of data as a strategic asset,” she says.

New presidential executive orders push the use of evidence to address health, jobs and economic mobility, social justice and climate change issues. But you can’t make evidence bricks without data straw, Lane says: “What we really want to do is figure out to find how the data are used and then how to make it more useful.”


Accurate, open data is crucial to cross-sector grid planning and disaster prevention – Geospatial World

“A particularly promising example of the kind of collective, cross-sector response needed to address this issue comes in the form of utility companies opening grid data up to competitors and even customers. Western Power Distribution has launched an open-access web portal offering detailed data on everything from consumption to generation across its network. The City of London is also working with utility companies to create a combined on-demand digital map of its subterranean pipes and cables where workers can see nearby underground infrastructure on mobile phones or laptop computers before a dig.

Geospatial data on the location and condition of frozen gas pipes could help to protect other underground infrastructure and avert disasters. Data predicting how vegetation growth might impact electricity lines could help a telecoms network operator anticipate potential interference with millimeter waves from nearby 5G antennae. In another example, we are working to integrate IBM Weather Group’s LIDAR and satellite data with geospatial network information to help electrical utilities predict and prevent encroachment on electric transmission and distribution lines….

The trend towards data sharing requires an industry-wide step-change in the capture and curation of data to ensure all companies have a comprehensive, current picture of their networks and use geospatial information systems built around open design principles. This would ensure a consistent standard of network data is captured and shared across the industry. Rich, real-time, and open data can help foster a utility sector built around cooperation that facilitates a higher standard of network resilience despite the challenging environmental issues we face today.”

Call extended: Special Issue: “Co-creation and Participation Fueled by Open Data” | JeDEM – eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government


In the past decade, a large diversity of policies made open and machine-readable data the new default for government information worldwide. And not only government are openly sharing their data. Companies, researchers and citizens increasingly share the data they have collected with others. 

Governments often justify their efforts to publish open datasets by various arguments ranging from economic effects to broader societal goals, including anecdotal best practice cases. Some countries mainly refer to value creation concerning public participation and co-creation, including Obama’s executive order from 2009. Others stress that opening government datasets is a double-edged sword with rising costs for publishing to be paid by the tax-payer, diminishing public authorities’ possibilities to sell data to generate profits and shift profits to global companies. Companies, researchers and citizens experience various other drivers for sharing their data, although these drivers may also overlap with each other and with those of governments. 

Now, more than ten years after the peak in attention for open data started, the scope of open data research has begun to shift more towards cases of open data use, implementation, and value creation and has slowly shifted towards co-creation and participation. However, much of this co-creation and participation research in the area of open data is anecdotal, and previous research limitedly addresses the topics of co-creation and public participation fueled by open data.  

Special Issue Objectives and Example Topics 

This special issue focuses on selected research that contributes to the theme “co-creation and participation fueled by open data” In this special issue, we consider that more impact can be realized with open data when multiple actors work together to create, provide, and use open data. Especially when the use of open data crosses domains and research disciplines, this might increase the impact of open data. For example, many global societal problems, such as climate change, migration, mobility, and energy transition, require the collaboration of various disciplines to develop appropriate solutions. By combining data derived from multiple thematic areas and combining skills and knowledge from various actors (e.g., researchers, citizens, entrepreneurs, and policymakers), new, innovative insights can be obtained. Examples of this co-creation and participation initiatives fueled by open data are hackathons, innovation contests or joined app development (e.g., Concilio, Molinari, & Morelli, 2017; Juell-Skielse, Hjalmarsson, Johannesson, & Rudmark, 2014; Purwanto, Zuiderwijk, & Janssen, 2019, 2020). 

The special issue will address a broad range of topics that should help readers better understand both the generic and specific aspects of co-creation and participation fueled by open data. It is not merely focused on open government data, but also covers research, business and citizen data. Within this scope, we invite original research papers and theoretical contributions that advance the field of research. We welcome qualitative and quantitative contributions, particularly such that combine rigor and relevance, including critical perspectives. 

Topics may include, but are not limited to: 

Participation and engagement of citizens, companies, and other actors in both open data provision and use; 
Collaborative forms of open data value creation, involving different actors (government, citizens, companies, NGOs, researchers, etc.);  
Governance issues for using open data to address societal problems that cross disciplinary boundaries; 
Quality issues of co-created open data or data collected by citizens; 
Evaluations, models, and frameworks of the political, social, environmental, or economic impact of open data; 
Promising directions and pathways for the improvement of public services utilizing open data through co-creation and participation; 
Evaluations, models, or frameworks addressing the re-usage of open data; 
Assessments of cross-border or cross-domain generic services based on different open data offers;
Best practices, evidence, showcases, and critique of the impact of open data;  
Benefits and challenges of using open data in public services co-creation processes. 

To build an evidence basis for open government data, we invite those interested in the field but unsure whether their work may align with this special issue’s goals to correspond with Anneke Zuiderwijk ( 


August 1, 2021 – extended deadline for submissions  
November 15, 2021 – results from the first round of reviews &  decisions to the authors 
January 15, 2022 – deadline for resubmissions 
February 15, 2022 – edito

Adopt the ODC Principles – International Open Data Charter

“Open data is a tool to enable better and more responsive government—it isn’t an end in itself. Opening data so that anyone can access, use and share it has enabled citizens to better understand how their government is buying services, running elections, and delivering on its commitments, to name just a few examples.

However, all too often open data implementation has happened in a vacuum and as a result is patchy, isn’t always driven by user demand and often depends on the whims of individual political champions. These are the problems that the ODC seeks to tackle.

The ODC’s goal is to embed the culture and practice of openness in governments and autonomous agencies in ways that are resilient to political change. Adopting the ODC Principles brings the following benefits:

Provides a common framework. The ODC principles are the international best practice for how to do open data well. They ensure consistency and ambition within and across different countries, as well as signalling that a government or an autonomous agency is committed to achieving the highest international standards.
Supports government implementing open data projects. Adopting the ODC principles is a statement that a government or autonomous agency seeks to be open and responsive to its citizens. The ODC can connect officials to expertise and the tools they need to help implement open data projects.
Connects with different sectors to turn high level open data principles into practical action. To date, the ODC has worked with experts on anti-corruption, climate change and agriculture to develop guides for how to use open data to help solve the problems these sectors face.
Champions high level commitments for open data in key international fora. The ODC works with governments, autonomous agencies, and institutions such as the G20 and OECD, to build support and political cover for public officials and provide consistency around open data policies….”