Making Data More Accessible

Require all information delivered to the government to be delivered in open and standard formats

The government collects and pays for the collection and development of an enormous amount of information. This information is frequently not delivered to the government in a way that maximizes its value. For example, data may be collected on the processes of an agency, the design of a ship or the number of fish living in a river. If this information is delivered in paper documents or “PDF” files it is very difficult to analyze, reuse, reference or evolve. Information delivered only as documents is, essentially, dead.


If, however, that data is delivered in a “raw data” form based on open standards that a computer can process, the information can be analyzed, referenced, linked, manipulated, managed and evolved – the information lives! There are existing standards for such information, such as XML Model Interchange (XMI), Resource Description Framework (RDF), XML Schema, etc. While it may not be practical to pick only one standard as the way to deliver all information to the government, such information should be delivered in some standard and open format that is machine readable at the detail level.


The idea is to add a requirement to the Federal Acquisitions Requirements (FAR) that information delivered to the government must be delivered in a machine readable format based on open standards. Specific acquisitions may further define the acceptable standards. When delivering data to the government any structure, schema or ontology inherent in the collection or creation of the data shall be retained in the data delivered to the government using the open, standard and machine readable format. The same information may also be provided in a document format.


Machine readable is defined as structured information able to be read and “parsed” by a computer program based on a known or supplied data formats and schema. Open standards are defined as standards for information representation that are openly available and free to use without cost. Open does not imply that computer programs required to read or analyze that information are necessarily free and open.



58 votes
Idea No. 1406