Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order today designed to take some of the massive piles of data held by the state and move them onto an easily accessible website where researchers can dive in.
“This data belongs to the people of Connecticut, and this initiative will help make that data more easily and conveniently accessible to them,” Malloy said, expressing a sentiment not always championed by government officials.
The executive order instructs the state’s executive agencies to identify a first round of datasets that will be made available on what is being dubbed the Connecticut Open Data Portal, at data.ct.gov. Agencies have been told to look for data that is reliable, already in electronic form, frequently requested by the public and free of confidential information.Malloy told the departments to also consider whether disclosure of the information would “improve agency accountability and efficiency, enhance public knowledge of the agency’s operations, or create economic innovation and opportunity.”
Agencies have 90 days to come up with that first list.
Tyler Kleykamp, who works for the Office of Policy and Management, will l lead the enterprise as Chief Data Officer (not to be confused with the television character “Data,” who was a chief officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise).
The initiative builds on the state’s transparency website, which already provides data in searchable and downloadable form on the state’s payroll, pension, contracts, grants and payments. And it’s part of a larger trend of freeing “big data” for analysis by researchers, journalists and business interests. States maintain enormous amounts of data on everything from health care spending to educational performance to highway safety. And more and more of it is seeping into the public domain.
“Timely and consistent publication of public information and data is an essential component of an open and effective government,” the executive order proclaims.
But as it moves to place that information online, the governor’s office also said it would safeguard private information, and said the initiative “does not apply to any protected data that, if disclosed, would violate state or federal law, would endanger the public health, safety or welfare, hinder the operation of government or impose an undue financial, operational or administrative burden on a state agency.”
The way officials interpret those parameters may determine just how public all that public information really will be.