Dr. Pan’s Bill to Establish a Statewide Open Data Portal Passes State Senate

Senate Bill 573 will create a Chief Data Officer that will facilitate unprecedented access to government information

June 4, 2015

Sacramento – Dr. Richard Pan’s Senate Bill 573, which would require California to adopt an open-data policy that will foster economic development, boost transparency and accountability, and reduce workloads while increasing cost saving at our state agencies, was passed by the State Senate today on a vote of 28 to 11.

“California is the nation’s leader in technology innovation and development, but we lag behind in creating a single, efficient data portal that can help data-driven innovation flourish in our state,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and State Senator representing Sacramento. “By providing broad access to government-collected data at our state agencies, great opportunities are made possible.”

“Beyond the benefits of improving transparency and customer service from government agencies, much of the promise of open data comes from the outside — from entrepreneurs, researchers, and analysts eager to put this data to work,” said Abhi Nemani, Chief Data Officer for Mayor Eric Garcetti of the City of Los Angeles. “Improving open data access at the state level will compliment efforts already underway by local governments and assist municipalities improve government efficiency and responsiveness.”

While some state agencies like the Health and Human Services, have taken it upon themselves to provide regularly updated, machine-readable data, California lacks a clear open-data policy.

Senate Bill 573 would create a Chief Data Officer who would create a more robust statewide open data portal by 2017. Under the bill, each state agency would designate a data coordinator to report to the Chief Data Officer who would establish a series of annual benchmarks for the amount and type of data published on the state-wide portal. As agencies continue to develop their own databases, there is little collaboration on the formatting and structure. Consequently, data sets cannot be merged into a single database until they have been “cleaned.” This creates inefficiency because staff from various agencies must thoroughly comb through their respective data on collaborative projects.

Under SB 573, the Chief Data Officer would create unified data standards that would improve cross-agency data collaboration.

California is home to132 of the Open Data 500 companies. These companies use open government data to generate new business and develop new products and services. By posting state government data in raw, easy machine-readable formats, it can be reformatted and reused in different ways, allowing the public greater access to analyze state agency information, build custom applications for our phones and computers, and perform research to improve our state.

SB 573 will be heard next in the State Assembly.

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