The U.S. Government manual in XML: A case study of a open data set

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A central tenet of the open data movement is that, to the extent permitted by law, data-especially data collected or produced by government agencies-should be published without restrictions on access or reuse. Proponents of open data believe that unrestricted access to rawdata yieldsmany benefits to society, including increased organizational transparency, accountability, public engagement with democratic processes, and economic growth. This article presents a case study based on one of the data sets created under the federal government’s open data program, an XML version of the United States Government Manual published by the Office of the Federal Register. Working with the Government Manual data set uncovered various quality issues that presented technical barriers to data reuse, despite its compliance with open data principles of formatting and licensing. This experience raises questions about the purported link between open data and its promised benefits, which I discuss within the wider context of critiques of open data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-265
Number of pages10
JournalLegal Reference Services Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


  • Government data
  • Ontologies
  • Open data
  • XML


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