Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Public Online Information Act

Yesterday I blogged a "Modest Manifesto for Open Philanthropy." As I mentioned in the post, I actually hit the "post" button sooner than I intended (fate?) and so a draft went live - I've refined it since then, so you might take another look. More importantly, several people have chimed in on the comments - and so we really are making the ideas better together.

And today's there's even bigger news. Representative Steve Israel from New York has introduced legislation to create the Public Online Information Act. The act will require "Executive Branch agencies to publish all publicly available information on the Internet in a timely fashion and in user-friendly formats. It also creates an advisory committee to help develop government-wide Internet publication policies."

(Email subscribers: Video from Sunlight Foundation YouTube follows. Available here and here)

If this act becomes law, it is one giant step closer to realizing the intent behind several of the ideas introduced in the Manifesto on Open Philanthropy, including the "Freedom of Foundation Information Act." As the realization that public agencies hold public data and should make them available becomes common practice ("public means online") then the logic for doing the same with publicly subsidized (e.g. tax exempt) organizations and their data is that much clearer.*

The advisory group function of #ThePOIA is also important - as it will bring together public and private sector actors to coordinate disclosure policies. By bringing expertise in from across the sectors we will take an important step toward considering interoperability of data across sectors - which will put us that much closer to being able to share information, track similar data, and work across sectors to make a positive difference.

Thanks to The Sunlight Foundation for their efforts on behalf of the Public Online Information Act. Here is a list of other organization supporting the effort. Oh, and Happy Sunlight Week to you! Please continue to add your thoughts to the Manifesto, and let the good folks in congress and @SunFoundation know of your interest and support for #thepoia.

*Not that logic and policy necessarily go hand in hand, but still.

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