Open government data and file formats: Constraints on collaboration

Anne L. Washington, David Morar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This exploratory interpretive case study investigated the collaborative potential of open government data available through, the US federal open data catalog. Open data is a central aspect of open government collaboration because it fosters exchange and communication between governments and the public. Government organizations that release open data make choices about file formats that have a substantial impact on the potential for collaboration. A file format, such as a document or a spreadsheet, is a constraint on which programs can read the file and what actions a user can do with the file. Overall, we found formats with limited collaboration potential but files that could be accessed by people with a wide range of skills. The findings are incorporated into suggestions for future iterations of open data policy. The advantages and limitations of using file formats for open data research are considered. The exploratory findings raise questions about future user-centric open data evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDG.O 2017 - Proceedings of the 18th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
Subtitle of host publicationInnovations and Transformations in Government
EditorsCharles C. Hinnant, Adegboyega Ojo
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450353175
StatePublished - Jun 7 2017
Event18th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, DG.O 2017 - Staten Island, United States
Duration: Jun 7 2017Jun 9 2017

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series
VolumePart F128275


Other18th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, DG.O 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityStaten Island


  • File formats
  • Open data
  • United States
  • User-centric data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


Dive into the research topics of 'Open government data and file formats: Constraints on collaboration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this