Create an Index of Federal Agencies' Major Datasets

All major agency datasets and information holdings should be publicly listed by a central authority in the White House or by each agency. Each dataset listed should include a description of whether it is public or not, and why.


Governments should index their major information holdings online, and publicly determining whether or not to release information. Currently, federal data transparency policy is not comprehensive and can be ignored by agencies. Too often, decisions as to what gets released and how are made by individual departments, outside public view, and without review from the federal CIO or CTO, Congress, or the public.

To determine which datasets must be indexed, agencies threshold definitions should be established. For example, any database with a maintenance cost over a certain number should be listed. Any information specifically described in a statute governing the agency should be described. Any form, report, or data described in the regulations governing the agency should be indexed. Whether the information is usually (or never) accessible via FOIA request should be noted, and whether bulk data is available through a central portal should be spelled out as well.

Only if the public is provided with a comprehensive list of government datasets can appropriate policy decisions be made as to whether the data should be made public.

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