GREAT Act News: Open Federal Grant Data Is The Default In The USA

grant outlays

Congress has quietly made an open, license-free identifier for the recipients of federal grants the default option for agencies in the United States. While truly open grant data is not mandatory, every agency must now decide whether to use non-proprietary identifiers or not.

2019 has been a strange year for open government in the Americas, as anyone reading this website knows well.

To begin the year, President Trump signed a historic open government data bill into law.

And now at the end of 2019, the President just signed the Grant Reporting Efficiency & Agreements Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 150) – also known as the GREAT Act – into law.

Text_-_H_R_150_-_116th_Congress__2019-2020___Grant_Reporting_Efficiency_and_Agreements_Transparency_Act_of_2019___Congress_gov___Library_of_Congress

The GREAT Act requires the US government to create a taxonomy of standard definitions for the data elements required to manage the awards federal agencies grant and – crucially – to consider whether to use unique, non-proprietary identifiers for both those awards and the entities that receive them.

Given how proprietary formats contribute to vendor lock-in and increased costs, this is indeed “GREAT news.”

As many good government advocates have argued, more open grant data will serve the public interest, helping the United States towards regaining leadership in democratic disclosures.

Bipartisan collaboration on nonpartisan digital governance issues still remains possible in DC – and it matters.

Neither of these legislative accomplishments broke into mainstream headlines or lead the evening news, although each represents a meaningful codification of good governance policies and practices in the 21st Century.

Many thanks to everyone who worked on these bills and helped guide them into law.

May that effort be rewarded by better outcomes for the American people in the new year.

Figure Source: US GAO

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