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Laying the Foundation: DOT’s Approach to Open Data

Over the past year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has laid the foundation for making high-value data more readily available by leveraging Making data more available is not a simple process. It requires coordination from all levels of the Department to ensure that security, privacy and confidentially are all protected. DOT has worked diligently to lay the policy and guidance framework to make this happen over the last year.

We began by developing a data inventory to meet the September 30, 2010 deadline identified in our Open Government Plan, which can be found at: The links and information below describe some of the key guidance material we have developed to steer that process.

First, candidate datasets were manually identified through multiple avenues:

  • Reviewing IT systems and determining what data already resides in those systems;
  • Reviewing information collections and forms to identify potential data sources;
  • Surveying DOT websites to see what data is currently published/available;
  • Asking the members of our DOT group to identify additional datasets not identified through one of the above for their Operating Administration (OA).  Each OA is represented on our group and membership is a collateral duty.

Next, those datasets were registered in the DOT Services/Data Architecture Group (S/DAG) Metadata Registry which was built internally at DOT to register our datasets and was demonstrated to the Federal working group.  The registry captures metadata and scoring information about each of our datasets according to the criteria listed in our Interim Identification and Prioritization Process and Guidelines, available at Over 140 data sets have been registered and scored. The end result of this approach is a prioritized inventory of high-value data.

Our next step was the development of a Departmental Data Release policy to guide how we would release the data listed in inventory in open, accessible formats. The policy was finalized and signed in March 2011.

The one year anniversary of DOT’s Open Government Plan marks our transition to the next, exciting stage of data release efforts--beginning to flow prioritized data sets to We will also continue to register additional data sets in the S/DAG Metadata Registry and publish inventory updates on a regular basis.

In addition, we look forward to deploying our cloud-based geospatial information system, visualDOT. We will pilot novel visualizations of DOT’s data, targeted to both enhance transparency as well as provide a more interactive approach for citizens to engage with our data. For more information about this program, contact the DOT Open Government Initiative at

Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
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