The Washington policy committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, the professional association that represents computer scientists and computing practitioners, released its Policy Recommendations on Open Government today.
The really important thing about these recommendations is that they reflect an understanding that there is a difference between “presenting” information, usually in the form of a web site, and providing the underlying data that anyone can then “present” or use or re-use. As David Robinson said in an earlier proposal, “[I]s a government monopoly on ‘presentations’ of the data the best way…? Probably not. If Congress orders the federal bureaucracy to provide a web site for end users, then we will all have to live with the one web site they cook up” (The (Ironic) Best Way to Make the Bailout Transparent, By David Robinson, Freedom to Tinker, January 27th, 2009)
Among the recommendations:
- Data published by the government should be in formats and approaches that promote analysis and reuse of that data.
- Citizens should be able to download complete datasets of regulatory, legislative or other information, or appropriately chosen subsets of that information, when it is published by government.
- Citizens should be able to directly access government-published datasets using standard methods such as queries via an API (Application Programming Interface).
See also: New USACM Poilcy Recommendations on Open Government, By David Robinson, Freedom to Tinker, February 5th, 2009.
Today’s statement puts the weight of America’s computing professionals behind the push for machine-readable government data.
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