Public bodies possess vast amounts of valuable data in formats that were not contemplated when Oregon enacted its public records law in 1973. Tools to obtain, manage, and search data evolve rapidly. Governor Brown signed HB 3361, which will help Oregon better utilize technology to make public data more readily accessible.
HB 3361 (2017) acknowledges modern reality about information technology and data. It creates a Chief Data Officer with multiple duties, including the following:
- Establish standards and plans for collecting, creating, managing, using and accessing data.
- Strengthen protections against disclosure of data that should be protected.
- Help state agencies make “publishable data” available to the greatest numbers of users and for the greatest numbers of applications. Maintain a central web portal for publishable data.
- Educate, guide and provide standards to state agencies on data quality, management and deletion.
HB 3361 sets a variety of standards including transparency standards. For example, pubic bodies may not use private software that would reduce the ability of the public to inspect and copy public records. Also, a state agency may not enter into a contract for the creation of a public records database that impairs the ability of the public to obtain public records.
HB 3361 is important for many reasons. With respect to public records, as more publishable data are accessible through a single state portal, then more people can find the information they seek online, which will reduce the number of requests for public records and disputes over those requests.
© 2017 by Jeff Merrick