Guidance: Agency Open Data Plans

How to Use this Document:

This document is Guidance drafted with the assistance of members of the Open Data Advisory Group, agency CIO's, outside experts; it is published by the Open Data Initiative of the State of Washington.

This document, like the agency plans it is intended to inform, will evolve over time. OCIO intends to update this guidance annually based on feedback from agencies and data consumers. Suggestions, edits and critiques are welcome at any time via email to the Open Data Program Manager, or as Suggestions on ( ).

The spectrum of data managed by state agencies is too broad to support a single statewide mandate on what, where or how to publish. Therefore, agencies should make their own plans for open data, using their best judgment about where to start and how far to go. Agencies are expected to draw upon this document in developing their own plans, policies and procedures to comply with the Open Data Policy of the OCIO. Agencies may adopt this plan in its entirety by copying the paragraphs below into a strategic plan, policy or performance management goal. Agencies may also delete or add commitments as needed to accomplish their missions and comply with law and policy.


This plan is adopted by _______ ("the agency") pursuant to the Open Data Policy established by the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and is intended to satisfy the requirements of applicable statute, including 43.105.351.

This plan will be adopted by reference in the agency's strategic plan, IT strategic plan, and/or LEAN agenda.


The agency commits to the following general priorities, specific actions, and measures in the twelve months following the adoption date of this Plan:

Incorporate public access when acquiring, redesigning or rebuilding information systems

Including one or more of the following actions:

  • Decision packages submitted for review by OCIO will include open data as a component of the system design.

[Example, a new or upgraded caseload management system could include a function to export select performance data to an open data portal such as]

  • The agency has and will maintain a data catalog that identifies the category of data held in agency databases - aiding agency staff in determining the appropriate level of public access.

[Example, The Department of Transportation's DOTS project catalogs and links the majority of databases in use by the agency, including the topical and security categorization of tables and records within the databases.]

  • The agency will perform an inventory of its principal databases, and produce a published (though perhaps not detailed) table of information systems acquired, redesigned or rebuilt since 1996 that incorporate provision for electronic public access.

[Example, the inventory could include almost any database of visible agency assets such as buildings, vehicles, works of art, library holdings or funded projects that is exposed to the public through the agency website, Fortress, Secure Access Washington, or exports to an open data portal such as or IT Portfolio reporting systems may provide a readily accessible view of systems with a public access component.]

Coordinate technology planning across agency boundaries to facilitate electronic access to state data

Including one or more of the following actions:

  • The agency will adopt policies and procedures describing specific staff roles and responsibilities for the management of data, including open data or specific data sets.

[Example, an agency can assign the role of data stewards to staff in key business units following the OCIO model in use in other state agencies.

  • Data stewards are generally business staff with staff positions in the agency's key business units that have knowledge of where data is located, how it is structured, provide insight into the use and classification of the data, and are responsible for the availability, accuracy and integrity of one or more data assets will be identified as data stewards in their position descriptions, following guidance from OCIO or models in use in other state agencies.]
  • The agency will appoint an executive responsible for overseeing and reporting on their agency's open data efforts.
  • The agency will publish a data appendix for each of its legislative reports that cites statistics or maps in support of the narrative, and will make each data appendix available to the State Library's Depository program (See RCW 40.06.030) in searchable, downloadable and machine-readable form.

[Example, a legislatively mandated report on the availability of broadband across the state could include a link to (or a copy of) a federal, state or private dataset where a citizen can search, download or study the aggregate numbers used to generate charts in the report.]

  • The agency will compile and publish a forward-looking "pipeline" of significant upcoming data releases and updates, including but not limited to:
  • legislatively mandated reports (with data appendices),
  • periodic works of data analysis by agency staff,
  • deliverables of agency personal services contracts,
  • caseload forecasts,
  • geospatial services,
  • works of cartography,
  • special-purpose web pages, and;
  • mobile applications.

This "pipeline" will be publicly available, will include the topic area and responsible staff person, and can serve to inform partner agencies of opportunities to collaborate or avoid duplicative data collection.

[Example, an agency might publish a communications calendar in structured, machine-readable format on its website, incorporating the due dates of legislative reports, selected consultants' deliverables, and datasets on scheduled for a periodic update.]

  • The agency will dedicate budget and staff time to the maintenance and operation of select technology services that interconnect, federate or provide documented application programming interfaces (API) for agency data on agency-specific or shared servers.

[Example, the Department of Transportation maintains a Traveler Information API that is intended to provide third parties with a single gateway to all of WSDOT's traveler information data.]

Develop processes to determine which information the public most wants and needs

Including one or more of the following actions:

  • The agency's public records officer will track and quarterly publish the dates and topics of select public records requests in a structured, machine-readable format, including the name of an agency staff person who worked on responding to the request.

[Example: the Department of Enterprise Services maintains a public folder of requests for Real Estate Services Leases; the web-based service shows the date the files were updated and the name of the person who uploaded the document.]

  • The agency's webmaster will track and monthly publish the number of "hits" on select agency web pages - especially those including links to Excel files, CSV files, or Fortress applications, along with the page's title and the name of an agency staff person who worked on the page.

[Example, the Employment Security Department tracks hits on its labor market data pages, and contributes the data to the Open Data Program Manager at WaTech for incorporation into an aggregate results Washington measure.]

  • The agency's contracts department will track and annually publish to a table of deliveries of data under select agency data sharing agreements, including the date, topic, and (optionally) the name of an agency staff person familiar with the data in question.
  • The agency's researchers will contribute to a table or database of research and data requests received, including the date and topic of the request and the name of an agency staff person who worked on responding to it.
  • The agency staff will engage strategic partners for suggestions on which datasets to prioritize.

[Example, an agency may reach out to universities or non-profit organizations it collaborates with for suggestions on which datasets to post.]

  • The agency's performance management team will participate in one or more measures of the impact of published agency open data.

[Example, an agency can contribute data on the principal users of its published data (via data sharing agreements, web scraping, or academic collaboration) to Results Washington's measures on Open Data which are reported by WaTech.]

Develop and employ methods to readily withhold or mask non-disclosable data

Including one or more of the following actions:

  • The agency will ensure that at least 10% of its staff complete training within the next year on protection of privacy, redaction of documents for public records requests, or information security. The agency will annually report to the Open Data Program Manager at WaTech the number of staff completing such training, or allow access to agency data in the Enterprise Services Learning Management System (LMS).
  • The agency will develop "small numbers," "linkage" and "de-identification" standards for the agency to apply to datasets before opening those that may contain real or potential personal identifiers.
  • The agency will de-identify, cleanse and publish at least X new significant datasets relating to the OCIO's List of Data to Publish First.

Develop and employ technical mechanisms for posting open data

Including one or more of the following actions:

  • The agency will identify the location where it will be posting its datasets and IT tools necessary for extracting, transforming and loading this dataset to these sites.

[Example, The Department of Health uses an open source java applet to schedule and automate the uploading of its data to]

  • The agency will develop the processes and responsibilities for posting datasets using these tools.