Guidance: What Data to Publish

Data to Publish First

The following general categories of data are broadly useful or specifically valuable to the communities, companies and citizens of the state, and should be at the top of the list for publication by agencies that work in these areas:

  • Geographic reference data
    • Parcels
    • Addresses (except category 3 and 4 data)
    • Where to obtain state services
  • Public safety data:
    • Traffic, moving violations by highway, etc.
    • Aggregate crime statistics
    • Environmental hazards
  • Fiscal Data
    • State salary data
    • Expenditure data
    • Budget data
    • Purchasing data
  • Health data
    • Aggregated incidence of disease and medical conditions in communities (review for HIPAA compliance first)
    • Quality and purity of water, food and air
    • Data that increases healthcare accountability
    • Data that facilitates patient choice
    • Data that increases efficiency of healthcare services or improves treatment outcomes
    • Data that facilitates healthcare innovation
  • Education data
    • Capabilities of state funded schools
    • Achievements by the state's student population
    • Results of state support of education
  • Census and demographic data
    • The populations of the communities of the state
    • Trends in migration, diversity and housing
  • Business and economic data
    • Aggregate changes in license counts
    • Labor market and employment
  • Government Directory Data
    • Who to contact for help with State services
    • Catalogs of available State Services

Data NOT Intended for publication

The Legislature has acknowledged that not all government information is able to be made available electronically. The following are examples of data that are unlikely to be good candidates for publication as part of an agency's open data plan. This list will be updated by WaTech and may become more restrictive than the exclusions in the definitions section of the Open Data Policy. 

  • Data exempt from public disclosure: Any data set or portion of a data set to which the state agency may deny access pursuant to the public records act, chapter 42.56 RCW, or any other provision of a federal or state law, rule, or regulation or local law.
  • Data requiring heavy redaction: Any data set that contains a significant amount of data to which an agency may deny access pursuant to (a) of this subsection, the redaction of which would impose undue financial, operative, or administrative burden on the agency.
  • Data already published as charts or visualizations in essentially unstructured narrative documents such as a report on the timeliness of appeals - especially where the underlying data used to produce the report are available in a structured form.
  • Deliberative process data: Data that reflects the internal deliberative process of an agency or agencies, including but not limited to negotiating positions, future procurements, or pending, recent or reasonably anticipated legal or administrative proceedings (such as rule making).
  • Others' Intellectual Property: Data subject to copyright, patent, trademark, confidentiality agreements, or trade secret protection.
  • Software: Proprietary applications, computer code, software, operating systems, or similar materials.
  • Agency admin: Data related to internal agency administration, including employment records, internal employee-related directories or lists, and facilities data.
  • Data or data sets related to research and development activities significantly funded by non-state sources, where the funding entities oppose or prohibit publication.
  • Data or data sets related to and specifically used for teaching activities, unless specifically identified for publication by a state agency.

Mandates and resources on data handling

  • Executive Order 16-01 directs agencies to "examine their data retention practices and retain personal information only as long as needed to carry out the purpose for which it was originally collected, or the minimum period required by law."
  • Version 6.0 of the general retention schedules for state agencies makes a number of changes in the way data can be handled; agency Records Officers can help interpret this lengthy document.
  • RCW 43.105.365 requires agencies to collect data directly from citizens where possible, to keep it only a s long as needed, and to establish procedures for correcting inaccurate information, including establishing mechanisms for individuals to review information about themselves and recommend changes in information they believe to be inaccurate. As of 2015 the law also requires agencies to review all personal data collection practices at least every 5 years.
  • Need help with these mandates? The Office of Privacy and Data Protection is available as a resource to agencies for developing privacy policies, training for staff, and collaboration on best practices.