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San Diego Paves Way for Increased Transparency

In early July, a San Diego city council committee unanimously approved an open data policy and the hire of a chief data officer.

Citing the purposes of transparency, citizen engagement and business sector growth, this month San Diego officials legitimized plans for an open data policy and the hire of the city’s first chief data officer by the end of 2014.

On July 2, the City Council's Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee unanimously passed the proposed open data policy, and also estimates -- pending full city council approval -- it will go into effect as early as September and no later than Oct. 1.

The plan was presented by the city's Open Data Advisory Group, comprised of representatives from San Diego's tech sector and from San Diego officials, and endorsed by the San Francisco-based open data group Code for America in addition to the local open data advocacy group Open San Diego.

A key provision will be Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s appointment of the CDO.

According to the time table for implementation, the CDO is likely to hit the ground running to coordinate open data efforts between departments that will inventory and release datasets gradually. Additionally, the CDO will be tasked to define the processes and technical guidelines behind open data publication.

In a comment via Twitter, Faulconer praised the plan's groundbreaking initiative to put public data back in the hands of citizens.

City #OpenData policy passes committee unanimously. Important step to making government more transparent. Thanks @SherriLightner @markkersey — Kevin Faulconer (@kevin_faulconer) July 2, 2014
Following the release of data sets, departments will be required to manage, maintain and update their information routinely. The policy also prohibits any licensing or registration required to use the new data, a move expected to ensure information is as free and accessible as possible.

Once the new data officer is officially hired, the CDO will give a status report on data inventory in March to the committee. Thereafter, a full report will be given to the city council six months from the CDO's start date.

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.
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