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Climate Change and the Open Government Directive
One of the issues arising from the unauthorized disclosure of the "ClimateGate" documents was concern that underlying datasets were not being released. As Eugene Volokh writes on The Volokh Conspiracy, "It looks like some of the data sources...did indeed demand...that the data they gave to CRU not be shared further."

The distinguished blogger goes on to note that "If you are so important, and your dataset is so important, it's important that other scientists who want to check your work have access to your dataset and not just to other datasets."

Irrespective of any data access restrictions at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, researchers should find open access to federal and federally-financed research in the US.

The Obama Administration's new Open Government Directive creates an unprecedented commitment to agency transparency - including release of data. The Directive requires agencies to create a "strategic action plan for transparency" that includes identification of "high value information not yet available and establishes a reasonable timeline for publication...."

The Directive also includes an emphasis on ensuring that "information conforms to OMB guidance on information quality" as required by the Data Quality Act.

The Directive's transparency requirements are in addition to those created by the Data Access Act which requires agencies to "ensure that all data produced under" federal award be made publicly available. OMB subsequently limited the access requirement to data used "in developing an agency action that has the force..." of law. Any climate change regulations or information collections would likely meet this test.

The triple hammer of the Open Government Directive, Data Quality Act, and Data Access Act establish mechanisms for providing public access to the data and models underlying federal climate change policies, as well as a process for ensuring the quality and reliability of those data and models.

It's now up to the public to make sure that the federal transparency, access and quality mechanisms are actively used.

See The Volokh Conspiracy

See OMB Open Government Directive

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