COLUMBUS–State Representatives Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) today introduced House Bill 3, also known as DataOhio, in an effort to create a clear and comprehensive method for government entities to record data so that Ohioans can have better access to the information. A nearly identical bill passed the Ohio House unanimously last General Assembly, but did not have time to pass the Ohio Senate, a required step before becoming law.

DataOhio would allow Ohio citizens to more easily find and use public record data online by standardizing formats to allow simplified programming and accounting methods. Ultimately, the bill will allow for quick comparison charts and graphs to be developed using public data.  Possible uses include charts showing taxpayer spending, crime statistics, healthcare statistics and much more. 

If enacted, DataOhio is intended to greatly reduce labor costs for research projects by eliminating repetitive tasks such as hand-retyping data into spreadsheets.  In addition to supporting technology startup efforts, the bill could also help save taxpayer dollars by simplifying financial audits. 
“DataOhio will make it easier to quickly and effectively obtain public information,” said Rep. Hagan. “It is important that the public has confidence in our state and local governments, and I believe that providing greater, clearer access to data will provide much-needed transparency.”

DataOhio, as described in House Bill 3, consists of four primary components:

1. The bill creates a DataOhio Board to allow various groups to meet monthly to work on improving access to public records and recommend standards for how public records are organized.
2.  The bill asks the State Auditor to create simplified accounting systems for public offices to allow “apples-to-apples” comparisons, as Ohio citizens might currently expect but which is not possible.

3.  The bill creates a single-location website – – to function as a quick access portal, also known as an online data catalog, to save citizens time in searching one website rather than dozens of differently formatted websites.
4.  As an incentive for publishing a small amount of open data, mostly to help local governments be more comfortable with publishing data online, the bill provides a framework for $10,000 micro-grants to local governments if they successfully provide a small subset of data to the public online.

Taken together, these four components lay the foundation for Ohio citizens to have much easier access to public records, and would allow researchers to use their mobile phones or laptop computers to search rather than formally requesting hardcopies of public records.  Small startup companies in Ohio could also use the data to create jobs in information technology.

A number of other states have implemented open data policies similar to DataOhio, including Texas, Illinois, Rhode Island, Utah, New York, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maryland.

Hagan and Duffey indicated that DataOhio would be complimentary to the Ohio Checkbook effort undertaken by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, but that the legislation is technically a separate effort, as DataOhio works to establish data standards for a variety of non-financial data as well as financial data.  As a result, some of the data produced might eventually be published by Ohio Checkbook, but it could just as easily be disseminated through other portals as well.

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