Center for Government Excellence

What should governments require for their open data portals?

Johns Hopkins University’s new Center for Government Excellence is developing a much-needed open data portal requirements resource to serve as a “set of sample requirements to help governments evaluate, develop (or procure), deploy, and launch an open data web site (portal).”

As many governments ramp up their open data initiatives, this is an important project in that we often see open data platform decisions being made without a holistic approach and awareness of what government should purchase (or have the flexibility to develop on its own).

“The idea here is that any interested city can use this as a baseline and make their own adjustments before proceeding,” said GovEx Director of Open Data Andrew Nicklin via email. “Perhaps with this we can create some common denominators amongst open data portals and eventually push the whole movement forwards.”

My fundamental suggestion is that government-run open data platforms be fully open source. There are a number of technical and financial reasons for this, which I will address in the future, but I believe strongly that if the platform you’re hosting data on doesn’t adhere to the same licensing standards you hold for your data, you’re only doing open data half right.

With both CKAN and DKAN continuing to grow in adoption, we’re seeing an emergence of reliable solutions that adequately meet the same technical and procurement requirements as propriety options (full disclosure: I work with NuCivic on DKAN and NuCivic Data).

Learn more about the GovEx open data portal standards project and post your suggestions.

Bloomberg commits $42 million to scale government performance management, open data

As part of a new What Works Cities initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $42 million effort to help 100 U.S. cities “elevate and accelerate” their “use of data and evidence to engage citizens, make government more effective, and improve people’s lives.”

The first eight partner cities are Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Mesa, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; Seattle, Washington; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Organizations that will help facilitate What Works Cities objectives include The Behavioral Insights Team, Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, or GovEx, Results for America and Sunlight Foundation.

One of the early contributions GovEx has made to this effort is a set of guides focused on open data and performance management implementation:

There is also the beginnings of an open data portal requirements guide and GovEx Labs, a “testing ground for collaboration, resource-sharing, and product development.” GovEx Director of Open Data Andrew Nicklin says the resources are “living, breathing books” that will continue to be iterated on. See the GovEx GitHub organization for all projects and follow on Twitter at @centerforgov.

Municipalities interested in participating in the What Works Cities program can learn more about the standard or visit