The White House released the new Project Open Data site today. The Background section explains well the reasons to make data open and the commitment expected of government agencies.
Data is a valuable national resource and a strategic asset to the U.S. Government, its partners, and the public. Managing this data as an asset and making it available, discoverable, and usable – in a word, open – not only strengthens our democracy and promotes efficiency and effectiveness in government, but also has the potential to create economic opportunity and improve citizens’ quality of life.
For example, when the U.S. Government released weather and GPS data to the public, it fueled an industry that today is valued at tens of billions of dollars per year. Now, weather and mapping tools are ubiquitous and help everyday Americans navigate their lives.
The ultimate value of data can often not be predicted. That’s why the U.S. Government released a policy that instructs agencies to manage their data, and information more generally, as an asset from the start and, wherever possible, release it to the public in a way that makes it open, discoverable, and usable.
The White House developed Project Open Data – this collection of code, tools, and case studies – to help agencies adopt the Open Data Policy and unlock the potential of government data. Project Open Data will evolve over time as a community resource to facilitate broader adoption of open data practices in government. Anyone – government employees, contractors, developers, the general public – can view and contribute.
See also the blog post Progress Toward Opening Government Data Resources from the OSTP.