Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information

On May 9, 2013 the White House released an Executive Order entitled, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information. This historic Executive Order and accompanying memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), released on the same day, aimed to make federal data easier to find and use. In the words of the Executive Order:

“Decades ago, the U.S. Government made both weather data and the Global Positioning System freely available. Since that time, American entrepreneurs and innovators have utilized these resources to create navigation systems, weather newscasts and warning systems, location-based applications, precision farming tools, and much more, improving Americans' lives in countless ways and leading to economic growth and job creation. In recent years, thousands of government data resources across fields such as health and medicine, education, energy, public safety, global development, and finance have been posted in machine-readable form for free public use on Entrepreneurs and innovators have continued to develop a vast range of useful new products and businesses using these public information resources, creating good jobs in the process.

To promote continued job growth, government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable. In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security.”


The Executive Order on open data was announced together with several other actions and commitments, including:

  • Commitments to launch new visualizations, content, and APIs on

  • The launch of  Project Open Data on GitHub to provide new tools and best practices for agencies to release open data can accelerate the adoption of open data practices by providing plug-and-play tools and best practices to help agencies improve the management and release of open data.

  • Additional government efforts to release new or improved federal datasets and engage with entrepreneurs and innovators to leverage government data.