Federal Data Integrity

Prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Sunlight joined other transparency advocates in expressing concern about the future of open government data in the United States. We highlighted the ways an administration could alter government data that fell short of outright removal, from defunding collection to limiting access to altering data sets. Taking open government data offline entirely was the most extreme action we anticipated.

Thankfully, that did not come to pass in 2017: despite widespread concern, we do not have evidence that data has been removed from federal websites after a year into the Trump presidency. The one exception we know of was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare datasets, documented below, which were taken down and then partially returned following public outcry and several lawsuits.

What Sunlight and our allies at the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) have seen are substantial removals and overhauls of webpages, documents, research, and websites, reducing public access to public information across the federal webspace. In 2018, we will be continuing to monitor federal open data resources and websites.

If you want to help archive federal open data, learn how Data Refuge works and pitch in — and if you see data go offline, please let us know.