Course Details

Open Data: How Information Standardization and Publication are Changing Government and Law

In 2014, Congress unanimously passed, and President Obama signed, the most sweeping government management reform in a quarter-century. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, directs the executive branch to transform all of its spending information from disconnected documents into open, standardized data. The DATA Act is part of a global move toward standardizing and publishing many domains of government information beyond just spending, a shift referred to as the open data movement. Current and proposed open data policies implicate such varied domains of government information as weather, geography, transportation, financial services, and recreation. Open data promises to change the way citizens interact with their government by improving the breadth and depth of information available to voters. The transition from documents to data also promises to improve government management: as public-sector leaders gain access to searchable data on spending and operations, it becomes easier to deploy analytical tools to inform decisions. However, the most economically consequential (and still mostly theoretical) impact of the open data movement will be to streamline interaction between government and business. In the shorter term, the adoption of standardized data formats for regulatory reports will allow software to automate the creation and submission of those reports. In the longer term, further efficiencies will be realized when laws and regulations are themselves expressed in standardized data formats, either replacing or supplementing conventional document-based publication. Some jurisdictions, and several technology companies, are experimenting with data formats for policy directives. The transformation of laws and regulations into open data could allow business and financial systems to automatically conform a company's operations to governing policies, systematize cost-benefit analyses in administrative law, and reduce the burden of administrative compliance. The open data movement has mainly focused on government information that is legally public, but as incentives multiply for governments to standardize more comprehensively, privacy and security concerns will grow. This course will summarize the first decade of the open data movement in the United States and elsewhere, outline significant information domains where the shift from documents toward data has gained momentum, consider potential challenges in security and privacy, and zero in on the current and theoretical consequences for the relationship between government and business. Registration: None Recommended (but not required): (1) Legal & Regulatory Process and (2) Privacy Management in the Collection and Use of Data Evaluation: Students will participate in a group-based scoping exercise in which they identify the potential benefits and challenges of transforming a particular area of government information into open-data. Class Materials: No textbook required. Materials will be online-only and will be posted on Canvas.

Catalog Number: REGLAW 950-0


Course History

Spring 2017
Title: Open Data: How Information Standardization and Publication are Changing Government and Law
Faculty: Hollister, Hudson
Section: 1     Credits: 0.5
Capacity: 24     Actual: 12

Spring 2016
Title: Open Data: How Information Standardization and Publication are Changing Government and Law
Faculty: Hollister, Hudson
Section: 1     Credits: 0.5
Capacity: 24     Actual: 10