Renee Saris-Baglama, Ph.D. and P. Allison Minugh, Ph.D.
Recently, the Obama administration issued an Executive Order to ensure government data are accessible and useful. Project Open Data (http://project-open-data.github.io/) is intended to improve transparency and spawn innovation.
Agencies are tasked with thinking about data as an asset. In doing so, agencies are encouraged to manage data from its start and release it to the public in an open format that encourages discovery. Anticipated benefits of the new policy include greater productivity and significant cost savings. For instance, data transparency could lead to a reduction in the duplication of data collection efforts and increase secondary data analysis.
Data sharing efforts can be easily undermined by poor data documentation and data management, two critical activities necessary to ensure data quality and the likelihood that existing data are utilized.
Data quality is paramount to the success of this mandate.