Data Foundation and Grant Thornton Report on Open Data Highlights Opportunities and Challenges in Coming Years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Data Foundation and Grant Thornton released a new report, The State of the Union of Open Data 2016, which compiles the views of the government and technology leaders who participated in Data Transparency 2016 (DT2016), the nation’s largest-ever open data conference. DT2016, which took place in Washington on September 28, featured the White House Open Data Innovation Summit as one of its program tracks.

The State of the Union of Open Data confirms that the open data revolution is just in its beginning stages and summarizes the opportunities and challenges ahead.

“The open data movement unites government, civil society, and the tech industry. It doesn’t have a leader,” said Hudson Hollister, Interim President of the Data Foundation. “So the best way to understand what open data promises and where it’s headed - the State of the Union of Open Data - was to interview all our conference speakers and try to summarize where their perspectives agreed and didn’t.”

The State of the Union of Open Data 2016 is based on interviews with more than 40 DT2016 speakers and others, including Congressional and agency policymakers, open data experts and advocates, and tech-sector leaders. The conference in September represented a significant gathering for the U.S. open data movement, with more than 1,000 attendees coming together to learn about developments in the field, share best practices, and expand the open data community.  

The report summarizes leaders’ views on the definition and history of open data, explores the importance of data standards, and collects aspirations for the future uses of open data to build value inside and outside government.

Open data can and should be used to improve the lives of the citizens government programs were designed to assist,” said Robert Shea, Principal with Grant Thornton Public Sector. “Currently, when we evaluate programs, we often collect data anew. Open data offers the promise that we could more easily assess how effective programs are and at what cost.

Perhaps the most talked-about open data development, among interviewees and also at DT2016, is the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) of 2014, whose mandate for standardized spending data will take effect in May 2017. The DATA Act will make federal spending more accessible and transparent by requiring each federal agency to publish financial and award data in a standardized format on  

The vast majority of interviewees – some 90 percent – believe that the standardization and publication of government data relating to their field has improved to at least some extent over the last few years, with some characterizing open data as a “radical transformation” or a “monumental change.” As the DATA Act is implemented, they expect that adoption of open data to replace disconnected documents and non-standardized databases will continue.

The State of the Union of Open Data 2016 suggests that the open data revolution is still in its relatively early stages, partly because the highest-value open data initiatives are also the most difficult. According to those interviewed, some of the most important expected outcomes include the ability to cross-compare data across programs and agencies, greater availability of actionable information to government stakeholders, and the ability to deploy better analytics.

To read the entire report, click here.




About The Data Foundation:

The Data Foundation is the nation’s first industry-focused open data research organization. Through research, education, and programming, the Data Foundation supports the publication of government information as standardized, open data.

About Grant Thornton Public Sector:

Grant Thornton Public Sector helps executives and managers at all levels of government maximize their performance and efficiency in the face of ever tightening budgets and increased demand for services. We give clients creative, cost-effective solutions that enhance their acquisition, financial, human capital, information technology, data analytics, and performance management. For more information, visit