What is an open data policy, and why is it important?

The creation of an open data policy is an important element of developing strong open data practice. A well written open data policy will clearly define the commitment of the organisation to publishing, sharing and consuming data. The policy will be used by implementing research partners to help prioritise their work on data, and by external stakeholders to understand how an organisation handles data, so that they may look for opportunities to contribute to and use the information (adapted from the Open Data Institute).

An open data policy can also help encourage informed reuse of third-party data by researchers and by the donor organisation. Open data and open access policies take on different goals and forms based on the organisation’s particular objectives, institutional design, and operational culture.

Although an open data policy is important and defines the commitment of the organisation to open data, it is not absolutely necessary to have a policy before opening data and practicing good data management.


Several organisations have data policies, but they are not all identical. They focus on different aspects of openness, as you will see in the following links. Some mandate for open data, others focus on open access, and few focus on open government and open policy. Below are some examples of organisations, companies and national governments that have successfully adopted open data policies.

What is an open data policy, and why is it important?

Although the aforementioned organisations have policies, some have limitations on their usefulness and compliance. This is not a criticism, but instead a demonstration of the dynamic ecosystem of open data in agriculture and nutrition. With changing political systems and the emerging issues and opportunities around data, it is important that time and resources be invested in ensuring the sustainability of the policy. Several pieces have been written on ways current policies could be improved, see one for academic journals and for donors.

There are numerous resources and guidelines for creating strong open policies, whether they be for open data, open access, or whatever is appropriate for your organisation.

The Open Data Charter - working with the Open Data Charter team will help you adopt important principles to help you on the way to creating and implementing a policy, based on your specific needs. The Open Data Charter works only with governments.

How to write a good open data policy - The Open Data Institute

Open Data Policy Guidelines - Sunlight Foundation

Develop your Open Data Policy - Socrata


GODAN has built a robust global network of more than 930 partners, from national governments, non-governmental, international and private sector organisations.

If you have another resource to add, please email GODAN’s Communications Executive enquiries@godan.info.

It is within GODAN’s mandate to assist large organisations and governments to create open data policies. If you are interested in assistance, please email enquiries@godan.info.