BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 169


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          Date of Hearing:  April 15, 2015


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT


                              Brian Maienschein, Chair


          AB 169  
          (Maienschein) - As Amended April 6, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Local government:  public records:  Internet.


          SUMMARY:  Requires local agencies to use specified open data  
          standards if they choose to post public records online that are  
          described as "open."  Specifically, this bill:


          1)Requires a local agency, except a school district, that  
            voluntarily posts a public record that is described as "open"  
            on its Internet Web site (website) to post the public record  
            in an open format that meets all of the following  
            requirements:


             a)   Retrievable, downloadable, indexable, and electronically  
               searchable by commonly used Internet search applications;



             b)   Platform independent and machine readable;



             c)   Available to the public free of charge and without any  
               restriction that would impede the reuse or redistribution  








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               of the public record; and,



             d)   Retains the data definitions and structure present when  
               the data was compiled, if applicable.



          2)Finds and declares that Section 1 of the bill furthers, within  
            the meaning of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3  
            of Article I of the California Constitution, the purposes of  
            that constitutional section as it relates to the right of  
            public access to the meetings of local public bodies or the  
            writings of local public officials and local agencies, and  
            declares, pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of  
            Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, that  
            the Legislature makes the following findings:



            Because California's local agencies are increasingly releasing  
            information in an open format, because open format is not  
            defined in current law, and because data released by local  
            agencies in an open format should be as uniform and usable as  
            possible, requiring local agencies to follow standardized  
            requirements when they elect to release information in an open  
            format furthers the purpose of Section 3 of Article I of the  
            California Constitution.





          3)Provides that no reimbursement is required by this bill  
            because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency  
            or school district under this act would result from a  
            legislative mandate that is within the scope of paragraph (7)  
            of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California  








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            Constitution.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires public agencies, pursuant to the California Public  
            Records Act (CPRA), to make their records available for public  
            inspection and, upon request, to provide a copy of a public  
            record unless the record is exempt from disclosure. 

          2)Requires a public agency to make non-exempt electronic public  
            records available in any electronic format in which it holds  
            the information or, if requested, in an electronic format used  
            by the agency to create copies for its own or another agency's  
            use.   

          3)Authorizes a public agency to charge to the requester the  
            direct cost of producing the electronic public record.

          4)Requires the requester of the electronic record to bear the  
            cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to  
            construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer  
            services necessary to produce a copy of the record if the  
            public agency produces the electronic record only at regularly  
            scheduled intervals or the request requires data compilation,  
            extraction, or programming to produce the record. 

          5)Provides that a public agency is not required to release an  
            electronic record in the electronic form in which it is held  
            by the agency, if its release would jeopardize or compromise  
            the security or integrity of the original record or of any  
            proprietary software in which it is maintained.

          FISCAL EFFECT:  This bill is keyed fiscal.


          COMMENTS:  









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          1)Bill Summary.  This bill requires local agencies that choose  
            to post on their websites public records that are described as  
            "open" to use a format that:



             a)   Is retrievable, downloadable, indexable, and  
               electronically searchable by commonly used Internet search  
               applications;



             b)   Is platform independent and machine readable;



             c)   Is available to the public free of charge and without  
               any restriction that would impede the reuse or  
               redistribution of the public record; and,



             d)   Retains the data definitions and structure present when  
               the data was compiled, if applicable.



            This bill is sponsored by the author.





          2)Author's Statement.  According to the author, "Key information  
            maintained by local governments, from business licenses to  
            council agendas and budgets, are frequently kept in file  
            formats that make them difficult to find or analyze using  
            contemporary internet tools and other technology.  The  








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            guidelines for posting these documents predate the Xerox  
            machine. 



            "Making local government data available online using open  
            standards will increase transparency and make operations more  
            effective and accountable to the public.  It will streamline  
            communication between government agencies, both state and  
            local, and vastly improve accessibility for the public.   
            Making the information electronically searchable will also  
            permit the public to assist in identifying efficient solutions  
            for government, create economic opportunities and promote  
            innovation and accountability at the local level.


            "Critically, this bill does not mandate such action, but  
            establishes key standards for agencies seeking to modernize  
            their disclosure practices.  This promotes common standards,  
            based on best practices utilized by governments across the U.S  
            and throughout the world.  Adopting these standards will  
            ensure that government information is accessible,  
            interoperable and easily utilized by the public."





          3)Background.  The Open Data movement is rapidly growing in  
            popularity and recognition, both nationally and in California.  
             Computer technology has advanced to provide open format  
            software, which allows electronic documents created and  
            maintained by public agencies to be searched, indexed, and  
            redacted electronically.  



            In 2009, in order to increase government agency  
            accountability, promote informed public participation, and  








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            create economic opportunity through expanding access to  
            information online in open formats, the United States Director  
            of the Office of Management and Budget issued an Open  
            Government Directive to federal government agencies.  This  
            Directive provided guidelines to public agencies responding to  
            public requests under the Freedom of Information Act and  
            instructed federal government agencies to "publish information  
            online in an open format that can be retrieved, downloaded,  
            indexed, and searched by commonly used web search  
            applications."





          4)California Open Data Portals.  The California Health and Human  
            Services Agency (CHHS) launched an Open Data Portal (portal)  
            initiative in order to increase public access to one of the  
            state's most valuable assets - non-confidential health and  
            human services data.  According to the CHHS portal, "Its goals  
            are to spark innovation, promote research and economic  
            opportunities, engage public participation in government,  
            increase transparency, and inform decision-making.  'Open  
            Data' describes data that are freely available,  
            machine-readable, and formatted according to national  
            technical standards to facilitate visibility and reuse of  
            published data.



            "The portal offers access to standardized data that can be  
            easily retrieved, combined, downloaded, sorted, searched,  
            analyzed, redistributed and re-used by individuals, business,  
            researchers, journalists, developers, and government to  
            process, trend, and innovate.  (It) puts tools for  
            transparency, accountability, and innovation directly into the  
            hands of Californians and others through a centralized,  
            user-friendly interface.  (The portal) provides users with a  
            single point of entry to access CHHS departments' publishable  








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            data.  This increased visibility provides derivative value as  
            the public is able to analyze and utilize publicly available  
            (publishable) government data to better understand what is  
            happening in government on all levels - federal, state, and  
            local."





            The CHHS also developed an Open Data Handbook (handbook),  
            which provides guidelines to identify, review, prioritize and  
            prepare publishable CHHS data for access by the public via the  
            CHHS portal.  The handbook is intended to serve both as an  
            internal and external resource to any party that may be  
            interested in improving the general public's online access to  
            data, and to provide an understanding of the processes by  
            which CHHS makes its publishable data tables available.  The  
            handbook "focuses on general guidelines and thoughtful  
            processes but also provides linked tools/resources that  
            operationalize those processes."





            The State Controller also has an open data website, which  
            contains financial and statistical information for cities and  
            counties around the state, allowing visitors to track  
            spending, revenues, assets, and liabilities.  The Controller's  
            website contains more than 13 million fields of data for  
            counties and cities over an eleven-year period, from  
            2002-2013.


          5)Open Data and Cities.  The National League of Cities in 2014  
            issued a report entitled, "City Open Data Policies: Learning  
            by Doing."  According to the report, "The White House launched  
            its Open Government Initiative in 2013, including its Data.gov  








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            website, thus beginning the process of making government data  
            more readily available.  In the wake of this federal  
            initiative, in partnership with communities, private  
            companies, advocates, and the technology sector, cities have  
            begun to innovatively pursue open data.  



            "As the primary providers of government services, cities  
            collect and hold massive amounts 


            of data about crimes, waste management, transportation,  
            education, housing, consumption, and more.  Until recently,  
            much of the inherent potential in this data has been untapped.  
             By making city data freely accessible, governments have not  
            only improved their transparency, but have begun to use open  
            data as a means to improve services and gather more  
            information about communities.



            "Open data is still a new concept to governments and practice  
            models for implementation and design are lacking.  The  
            National League of Cities seeks to assist city leaders in  
            developing and pursuing open data policies by outlining  
            implementation processes and pointing to best practices."





            Several local jurisdictions in California have launched their  
            own Open Data websites or portals.  For example, the City of  
            Los Angeles has a searchable website with information on the  
            economy, public safety, the environment, city services, city  
            budget, events and culture, parks and libraries, and  
            transportation.  About three months after the launch of Los  
            Angeles' open data site, the city appointed its first Chief of  








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            Data officer.





            As another example, AmLegal Decoder was deployed in San  
            Francisco after the Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation, The  
            OpenGov Foundation and American Legal Publishing Corp. teamed  
            up to transform and publish the city's laws and legal and  
            technical codes at SanFranciscoCode.org.  AmLegal Decoder is  
            open-source software that automatically updates  
            SanFranciscoCode.org and delivers every newly codified city  
            law accessible online for city employees, everyday citizens  
            and anyone else who might need them.





            In addition, the City of Long Beach has its own open data  
            site, OpenUpLongBeach.com.  Long Beach and Fresno have hosted  
            open data events as well.  The Open Knowledge Foundation also  
            lists Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, West Hollywood, Pasadena,  
            Culver City, Santa Clarita, Bell, Manhattan Beach, San Diego,  
            Burbank, Compton, and other California cities in its U.S.  
            Cities Open Data Census.





          6)Proposition 42.  Proposition 42 was passed by voters on June  
            3, 2014, and requires all local governments to comply with the  
            California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act and  
            with any subsequent changes to those Acts.  Proposition 42  
            also eliminated reimbursement to local agencies for costs of  
            complying with the California Public Records Act and the Ralph  
            M. Brown Act.








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            This bill contains language that says that the Legislature  
            finds and declares that Section 1 of the bill furthers the  
            purpose of the California Constitution as it relates to the  
            right of public access to the meetings of local public bodies  
            or the writings of local public officials and local agencies.   
            Pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of  
            Article I of the Constitution, the bill also includes a  
            finding that says that "Because California's local agencies  
            are increasingly releasing information in an open format,  
            because open format is not defined in current law, and because  
            data released by local agencies in an open format should be as  
            uniform and usable as possible, requiring local agencies to  
            follow standardized requirements when they elect to release  
            information in an open format furthers the purpose 


            of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution." 



            Section 3 of the bill specifies that no reimbursement for  
            local agencies to implement the bill's provisions is necessary  
            because "the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency  
            or school district?would result from a legislative mandate  
            that is within the scope of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b)  
            of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution."





          7)Related Legislation.  AB 1215 (Ting) creates the California  
            Open Data Act and the position of Chief Data Officer, who is  
            required to establish the California Open Data Standard  
            (standard), as specified; requires state agencies to make  
            public data, as defined, available on an Internet Web portal  








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            pursuant to that standard; and, allows a local government to  
            adopt that standard.  AB 1215 is pending in the Assembly  
            Accountability and Administrative Review Committee.



            SB 272 (Hertzberg) requires local agencies, in implementing  
            the CPRA, to: create a catalog of enterprise systems, as  
            defined; make the catalog publicly available upon request in  
            the office of the clerk of the agency's legislative body; and,  
            post the catalog on the local agency's Internet Web site. SB  
            272 is pending in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.





            SB 573 (Pan) requires the Governor to appoint a Chief Data  
            Officer, who is required to create a statewide open data  
            portal, as defined, to provide public access to data sets from  
            agencies within the state.  SB 573 is pending in the Senate  
            Governmental Organization Committee.





          8)Previous Legislation.  SB 1002 (Yee) of 2012 would have  
            required the State Chief Information Officer to conduct a  
            study to determine the feasibility of providing electronic  
            records in an open format.  SB 1002 was vetoed with the  
            following message:



            The role of the State Chief Information Officer is to make  
            sure that state government uses information technology  
            efficiently and effectively - including providing public  
            records electronically when possible.  Another legislative  








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            report on electronic public records isn't necessary.





            AB 2799 (Shelley), Chapter 982, Statutes of 2000, required  
            public agencies, upon request, to disclose electronic records  
            in an electronic format in which the agency held information  
            or in a format that had been used by the agency to create  
            copies for its own use or for other public agencies.  





          9)Arguments in Support.  The Sunlight Foundation, in support,  
            writes, "Sunlight feels that AB 169 will increase the  
            accessibility of local open data by providing a useful  
            definition of what 'open' really means for municipalities that  
            want to join the open data movement.  By offering a clear  
            definition of open data as 'retrievable, downloadable,  
            indexable, and electronically searchable by commonly used  
            Internet search applications;' 'platform independent and  
            machine readable;' and 'available to the public free of charge  
            and without any restriction that would impede the reuse or  
            redistribution of the public record' AB 169 promotes a set of  
            elements that are broadly recognized to be the core of what it  
            means to make data open.  In addition, by recommending that  
            information released "retain[s] the data definitions and  
            structure present when the data was compiled," AB 169 supports  
            the public provision of good-quality, usable data through  
            ensuring that whatever contextual information was originally  
            available with the data remains present in its public-facing  
            publication.



            "Increasing the amount of available, good quality open data is  








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            an important goal for California to pursue as a state.   
            California is already rich in local open data expertise that  
            can help local data's value spread rapidly.  The state  
            features the leadership of municipal open data programs in San  
            Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento (and West  
            Sacramento) and San Diego, and a new county-wide open data  
            initiative recently came online in Los Angeles County.   
            Individual state agencies have (also) demonstrated their  
            strong interest in opening state data?While not a mandate for  
            activity by local governments, AB 169 would establish a needed  
            framework for managing information and ensuring those  
            governments making their data 'open' will do so in a way that  
            maximizes the utility and interoperability of this  
            information.





          10)Arguments in Opposition.  None on file.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          CalTax


          Sunlight Foundation




          Opposition








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          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Angela Mapp / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958