In our blog outlining New Year’s resolutions for the federal government, we noted how a report from the Cato Institute gave the administration poor grades on data publication practices. The report found that, “the administration and the Congress both receive fairly low marks under systematic examination of their data publication practices.”

We are happy to learn that the administration is working towards improving its data public practices. According to Federal News Radio, the Office of Management and Budget will soon mandate that agencies release machine-readable data.

The change is part of the president’s Digital Management Strategy described in a May 23, 2012 report from the White House.  An objective in the report states that, “We must enable the public, entrepreneurs, and our own government programs to better leverage the rich wealth of federal data to pour into applications and services by ensuring that data is open and machine-readable by default.”

Jim Harper, the author of the Cato report on government publication practices, called the change “good, not yet great.”  He added that, “great would be the White House itself publishing machine-readable, open data when it issues the president’s budget in February. Along with the plan for fiscal year 2014 spending, why couldn’t we get the code that distinctly identifies each agency, bureau, program, and project—in essence, the organization of the U.S. federal government?”

There is still a lot of work this administration needs to take regarding open government and transparency, but we applaud this change. We hope OMB officially issues this mandate sooner rather than later.