The problem: Some agencies say their software won’t export data. Others charge tons of money for data, saying it’s complicated to extract. We can fight them by showing that it’s not that complicated. We ask for the agency’s data dictionary or record layout, which is a document describing the table names, field names and field formats in a database, and then we ask for just the tables and fields we care about. But many agencies say the software vendor won’t let them disclose a data dictionary because it’s a trade secret.
The solution: Prohibit agencies from putting themselves in such predicaments. Transparency by Design says that any new government technology must offer the ability for an agency to deliver both data and data documentation without restriction.