Photo credit: Max Schmachtenberg, Christian Bizer, Anja Jentzsch and Richard Cyganiak [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Here on earth, God’s work must surely be our own. ~ JFK
Today, to close out my series on finding common ground in opposing viewpoints, I offer the last item in my list of positive initiatives the Trump Administration has accomplished. Despite the fact I supported Hillary Clinton in the last election, it didn’t take me long to come up with three good things.
Starting with the Taiwan Travel Act and then the First Step Act, now I’ll share with you a bill you are not likely to have heard of, the OPEN Government Act.
Before doing so, some advice to those whose personal feelings about the President make it impossible to acknowledge his accomplishments.
Shortly before the 2016 election, Ben Stein lamented the inevitable coronation of Hillary Clinton, someone he clearly detests (from my perspective, anyway). He wrote the following in The American Spectator:
This is a huge, powerful, great nation. We will get by. If we each do our parts as parents, spouses, friends, workers, soldiers, law enforcement, teachers, firefighters, lawyers, judges, loving children, we will get by. We have faced far worse challenges, We will get through this one as well. We all have to stand up for what we believe is right day after day, even if it’s unpopular. […]
We will not let this election be the end of anything. We will keep fighting for the America we want and love. This election eve, when Mrs. Clinton becomes President-elect, we all wish her well. We want her to be a great President. But we will fight in the courts, in the media, in our neighborhoods, for what we know is right.
In other words, as I’ve written before, our values don’t die because of an election.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the bipartisan OPEN Government Data Act (H.R. 1770) that was signed by President Trump on January 14th of this year. I saved it for last because, of the three bills discussed, I think it’s likely to be the one that has the greatest positive impact on the arc of our country.
In short, as suggested by its name, the OPEN Government Data Act commits the Federal Government to open data. By requiring federal agencies to 1) publish government data in a machine-readable format with open licensing and 2) hire “chief data officers” to manage its implementation, the Act aspires to:
- Assure the public has full access to government data.
- Force government agencies to understand what data it has.
- Increase transparency and accountability in government operations.
- Save taxpayer money.
- Improve services.
This sentiment was echoed by the sponsor of the bill, Representative Derek Kilmer of Washington (source) who, citing the impact of National Weather Service data, also noted how such data can foster economic growth and innovation. Indeed, given how important and transformative data have become to our lives and considering it’s a public good, I’m surprised the passage of this bill received no mention in mainstream media.
Another big win for the President. An even bigger win for the citizens of our country.
On that note, it’s a good time to move onto a different thread. Before I do, how about some music for our Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist? Here then by way of Gnarls Barkley is an oldy but goody, “Crazy.” Lars Gotrich of NPR referred to it as a psychedelic soul song that “wound up hanging over the popular consciousness like a wistful being bearing its soul.” It may be old but it certainly isn’t out of date.
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