I am pleased today to announce the release of USAID’s policy on Development Data, known as Automated Directives System 579 (ADS 579). In an era of unprecedented openness in government, ADS 579 is USAID’s first ever open data policy, providing a framework for systematically collecting Agency-funded data in a central repository, structuring the data to ensure usability and making the data public, while ensuring rigorous protections for privacy and security.
USAID has long been a data-driven and evidence-based Agency, but never has the need been greater to share our data with a diverse set of partners—including the general public—to improve development outcomes. For the first time in history, we have the tools, technologies and approaches to end extreme poverty within two decades. And while many of these new innovations were featured at our recent Frontiers in Development Forum, we also recognize that they largely rely on an ongoing stream of data (and new insights generated by that data) to ensure their appropriate application.
One of the reasons this policy is so important is that it paves the way for USAID and its partners to draw from an increasingly robust, data-rich environment to create these breakthrough insights and solutions in support of our mission well into the future. Specifically, the policy:
- Establishes the Development Data Library (DDL) as the Agency’s repository of USAID-funded, machine readable data created or collected by the Agency and its implementing partners;
- Requires USAID staff and implementing partners (via associated changes to procurement instruments) to submit datasets generated with USAID funding to the DDL in machine-readable, non-proprietary formats;
- Implements a data tagging protocol in keeping with the President’s Executive Order and Office of Management and Budget policy on Open Data; and
- Defines a data clearance process to ensure that USAID makes as much data publicly available as possible, while still affording all protections for individual privacy, operational and national security, and other considerations allowable by law.
USAID is committed to treating its data not simply as an output of Agency efforts, but as precious “development capital” that can best serve the global good when widely shared.
In fact, based on the results of our recent survey, we know that stakeholders from around the globe are already using USAID’s open data to improve development outcomes. One organization in Kenya is using this data to target needy areas for enhanced agricultural training; an international organization is creating visualizations of aid flows to specific countries—down to the street corner level—to better understand the scope of our efforts; another is promoting additional research by linking health and livelihood outcome data to environmental variables.
As President Barack Obama noted in his remarks at the third anniversary of the Open Government Partnership, the United States is accelerating efforts to enhance transparency, including the development of digital services in the open. USAID is committed to remaining at the forefront of these efforts, and we look forward to engaging you in the process.
Have questions about the policy? Please post your question on StackExchange where we can provide a response for public benefit. Also please feel free to download our fact sheet [PDF, 139kB] or to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.