Whitehall News

DataOhio Initiative

Duffey looks to streamline access to public records


State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) has introduced a series of bills designed to make it easier to find and understand data about local and state government.

Called the DataOhio Initiative, the program would promote open standards and make Ohio government more accountable to Ohioans, he said.

Regular citizens, as well as journalists and researchers, would be able to easily find and compare apples-to-apples data about various jurisdictions. It would be similar to the Cupp Report program that standardizes data for Ohio public schools.

In introducing the bill, Duffey recalled his days on Worthington City Council. Whenever a council member would request information about another jurisdiction for comparison purposes, city staff members would have to start from scratch, he said.

Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) is the co-sponsor of the bills.

The first of the series, House Bill 321, requires state and local public agencies to adhere to an open data standard, thus making information easier to access and search. All data would be posted in an open format that would be machine readable and available to the public without restrictions.

H.B. 322 provides a uniform chart of accounts for state and local governments.

H.B. 323 requires Ohio to establish an online catalog to provide descriptions of datasets, tutorials and tools. This "one-stop" feature would help people avoid having to go to multiple places for similar data.

H.B. 324 provides $10,000 grants to local governments as an incentive to provide budgetary, staffing and compensation information online in an open-data format that uses uniform accounting.

"DataOhio will make it easier to quickly and effectively obtain public information," Hagan said.

The DataOhio initiative is proposed to be advised by a 13-member board comprising designees from all five statewide officeholders -- governor, attorney general, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state -- along with the House speaker, the Senate president, minority legislative leaders, three local government representatives and the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

The board would advise the legislature on improvements that could be made to further the initiative and increase open-data availability.