Standards, Specifications, and Formats Supporting Open Data Objectives

Consistent with existing agency responsibilities under OMB Circular A-119 (Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities), and M-12-08, the use of consensus standards, specifications, and formats can be used to support open data objectives. OMB Circular A-119 states that voluntary consensus standards should be developed through a process that is defined by the following attributes:

  • Openness
  • Balance of interest
  • Due process
  • An appeals process
  • Consensus

For the purposes of implementing of the OMB Memorandum titled “Managing Information as an Asset,” agencies must follow OMB Circular A-119 in the development, maintenance, and use of standards and specifications that are developed through an open, collaborative, and transparent process. Standards and specifications developed in processes with the attributes identified above enable data, products, and services to be used by anyone, at any time, and spur innovation and growth. Agencies should prioritize the use of open data formats that are non-proprietary, publicly available, and place no restrictions upon its use. Use of standards, specifications and formats can provide significant benefits to agencies and stakeholders while helping to implement open data priorities.

Best Practices for Data Standards

System owners and data owners should, wherever possible, consider relevant international and US standards for data elements. Standards bodies dealing with data include:

International Standards

US National Standards

US Federal Government Standards

This section of Project Open Data will be updated as guidance evolves.