Open Data Act

Summary: The Open Data Act requires the government to disclose online a range of information about government programs and services.

Based on Montgomery County, MD bill 23-12, enacted in 2012.

For more about Open Government legislation, see the Sunlight Foundation’s Open Data Policy Guidelines.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Open Data Act.”

SECTION 2. PURPOSE

This law is enacted to encourage online disclosure of government-held information. Online disclosure promotes a healthy democracy and saves money by eliminating much staff time spent satisfying document requests.

SECTION 3. OPEN DATA

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) Definitions—In this Act:

1. “Agency” means any department or office of the [state/city/county] government.

2. “Data” means the final version of digital information:

(a)   in a structured, statistical, or alphanumeric form (i.e., list, table, graph, chart, or other non-narrative form) that can be digitally transmitted or processed; or in an unstructured, factual, or content form (i.e., fact sheet, memorandum, press release, compliance' guidance, manual, or other narrative form) that can be digitally transmitted or processed; and

(b)   is regularly created or maintained or on behalf of and owned by an agency that records a file, measurement, transaction, or determination related to the mission of an agency.

“Data” does not include any information provided to an agency by another government entity; or any image file, such as a design, drawing, map, photo, or scanned copy of an original document. “Data” includes statistical or factual information about the image file and geographic information system data.

3. “Department” means the Department of [Technology Services].

4. “Determination” means any agency’s final decision about a person, including:

(a) eligibility for services or benefits;

(b) issuing a permit;

(c) registration, certification and licensing: and

(d) liability for civil and criminal penalties.

5. “Measurement” means to quantify any characteristic of an observable event, occurrence, or object by comparison to a reference standard.

6. “Open standard” means a technical standard developed and maintained by a voluntary consensus standards body that is available to the public without royalty or fee.

7. “Public data set” means a comprehensive collection of interrelated data that is available for inspection by the public under any provision of law and is maintained on a computer system by, or on behalf of, an agency. Public data set does not include any portion of a data set that is not subject to disclosure under any Federal or State law.

8. “Technical standard” means:

(a) the common and repeated use of a rule, condition, guideline, or characteristic for any product or related process and production method, and related management systems practice; and

(b)  (1) the definition of a term;

(2) classification of a component;

(3) delineation of a procedure;

(4) specification of dimension, material, performance, design, or operation;

(5) measurement of quality and quantity in describing any material, process, product, system, service, or practice;

(6) test method and sampling procedure; or

(7) description of fit and measurement of size or strength.

9. “Transaction” means any interaction between an agency and any person related to the mission of an agency.

10. “Voluntary consensus standards body” means a domestic or international organization that develops and maintains a technical standard that uses a transparent deliberative process, permits the participation of any party, and achieves general consensus, although not necessarily unanimity, of the participating parties, including a process to attempt to resolve any difference in viewpoint.

(B) Internet data set policy and technical standards

1. Within 180 days after this Act takes effect, the Department must prepare and publish a technical standards manual for the publishing of a public data set in raw or unprocessed form through a single web portal by an agency to make public data available to the greatest number of users and for the greatest number of applications. The manual:

(a) must use open standards for web publishing and e-government, whenever practicable;

(b) must identify the reason why each technical standard was selected and to which types of data it applies;

(c) may recommend or require that data be published in more than one technical standard; and

(d) must include a plan to adopt or utilize a web application programming interface that permits application programs to request and receive public data sets directly from the web portal.

2. The Department must update the manual as necessary.

3. The Department must consult with appropriate voluntary consensus standards bodies and, when participation is feasible, in the public interest, and is compatible with agency and departmental missions, authorities, and priorities, participate with such bodies in the development of technical and open standards.

(C) Agency Compliance Plan

1. Within 18 months after this Article takes effect, the Department must submit a Compliance Plan to the [mayor and council] and must make the Plan available to the public on the web portal. Each agency must cooperate with the Department in its preparation of the Plan. The Plan must:

(a) include a summary description of a public data set under the control of each agency on or after this Act takes effect;

(b) prioritize the public data sets for inclusion on the single web portal on or before the Department under this Act; and

(c) create a timeline for their inclusion on the single web portal

2. If a public data set cannot be made available on the single web portal on or before December 31, 2018, the Plan must state the reason why the set cannot be made available, and, to the extent practicable, the date by which the agency believes that it will be available on the single web portal.

3. To prioritize public data sets, an agency must consider whether information embodied in the public data set:

            (a) can be used to increase agency accountability and responsiveness;

            (b) improves public knowledge of the agency and its operations;

            (c) furthers the mission of the agency;

            (d) creates economic opportunity; or

            (e) responds to a need or demand identified by public consultation.

4. No later than July 15, 20XX, and every July 15 thereafter, the Department must submit, and post on the web portal, an update of the Compliance Plan to the [mayor and council] until all public data sets have been made available through a single web portal as required by this Act. The update must include:

            (a) the specific measures taken to make the public data set available on the single web portal since the previous update;

            (b) any specific measure that will be taken before the next update;

(c) an update to the list of public data sets, if necessary;

(d) any change to the prioritization of public data sets; and

(e) an update to the timeline for the inclusion of a public data set on the single web portal, if necessary.

5. If a public data set cannot be made available on the single web portal on or before December 31, 20XX, the update must explain why it cannot and, to the extent practicable, specify the date by which the agency believes that the public data set will be available on the single web portal.

(D) Public data set availability

1. An agency must follow the Compliance Plan. If an agency cannot make a public data set available on time, the agency must report to the [mayor and council]:

(a) which public data set it is unable to make available;

            (b) the reasons why the agency cannot make the public data set available; and

(c) the date by which the agency expects the public data set to be available on the single web portal.

2. A public data set must be in a format that permits automated processing and must make use of appropriate technology to notify the public of all updates.

3. A public data set must be updated as often as is necessary to preserve the integrity and usefulness of the data set to the extent that the agency regularly maintains or updates the public data set.

4. A public data set must be made available without any registration or license requirement or restriction on use. However, the Department may require a third party providing to the public any public data set, or application utilizing that data set, to explicitly identify the source and version of the public data set and describe any modification made to that data set. In this section, registration or license requirement or restriction does not include any measure required to:

(a) assure access to a public data set;

(b) protect the single web site housing a public data set from unlawful abuse or an attempt to damage or impair use of the web site; or

(c) analyze the type of data being used to improve service delivery.

5. A public data set must be accessible to external search capabilities.

6. Nothing in this Act prohibits an agency from: (a) voluntarily disclosing information not otherwise defined as data; or (b) making voluntarily disclosed information accessible through the single web portal.

7. After a public data set has been available on the web portal for 6 months, an agency must not change or terminate collection of data or remove the data set from public access without the approval of the [Chief Administrative Officer or the Chief Administrative Officer’s] designee.

(E) Web portal administration

1. The Department may take reasonable measures to maintain bandwidth availability of the web portal.

2. The Department must conspicuously publish the open data legal policy on the web portal.

3. The Department must implement an on-line forum to solicit public feedback and encourage public discussion on open data policies and public data set availability on the web portal.

4. An agency must consider any request that it receives through the on-line forum to include a particular public data set when making any determination as to priority for public data set inclusion on the single web portal.

(F) Open data legal policy

1. A public data set made available on the web portal is provided for informational purposes. The [state/city/county] does not warranty the completeness, accuracy, content, or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any public data set made available on the web portal, and no warranty is implied with respect to any public data set on the web portal.

2. The [state/city/county] is not liable for any deficiency in the completeness, accuracy, content, or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any public data set, or application utilizing the data set, provided by any third party.

3. This Act does not create a private right of action to enforce its provisions. Failure to comply with this Act must not result in liability to an agency.

SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE

This law shall become effective on July 1, 20XX.


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