Sharing the best open government ideas and proven approaches is the goal of the Free Law Founders. Even better, we connect you and your elected officials to the Free Law Founder who wrote the legislation, executed the plan, and discovered what works (and what doesn’t) so you don’t have to.

These proven state and local policies to further digital democracy are yours to reuse, modify and improve – just like open data and open source software.

Case Study: Two Open Gov Laws that Passed in New York City

Here are two examples of bills passed in New York City that you might consider bringing to your location. Though the particulars may be adjusted, the principles behind the legislation and some of the actions taken to promote them and make them law may be similar. To learn more about these bills or our action plan for moving the open government legislation forward, please email

In addition, you can find some excellent recommendations from the Sunlight Foundation on creating open data legislation here.


By Council Members Kallos, Chin, Constantinides, Cornegy, Gentile, Koo, Lancman, Rose, Vacca, Rodriguez, Mendez, Rosenthal, Koslowitz, Lander, Van Bramer, Barron and Mealy

Click here to view and comment on the text using Madison.

A Local Law to amend the New York city charter, in relation to publishing the city record online.

SUMMARY: The law will put all New York City law online in a searchable and shareable format, instead of being inaccessible on for-fee websites. Currently, legal publishing services sell certified versions of the law to online legal information vendors, which the public must pay to access. This law guarantees that the public has access to the complete, continuously updated City Charter and administrative code.

BILL TEXT: Be it enacted by the Council as follows: Section 1. Section 1066 of the New York city charter is amended by adding a new subdivision g to read as follows:

g. All information published in the City Record after the effective date of the local law that created this subdivision shall be available as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours of publishing, at no charge on a website maintained by or on behalf of the city of New York as well as on a single web portal that is linked to or any successor website maintained by, or on behalf of, the city of New York created pursuant to section 23-502 of the administrative code. Such information shall be available in both a non-proprietary, machine-readable format and a human-readable format and shall be capable of being downloaded in bulk. Such information shall be searchable by, at minimum, date of publication, relevant agency, keyword, and category, such as public hearings, procurement notices, and changes in personnel.

§2. This local law shall take effect one year after its enactment, provided, however, that the department of citywide administrative services shall take such actions prior to such time as are necessary for timely implementation of this local law.

Int. No. 149-A: LAW ONLINE

By Council Members Lander, Kallos, Chin, Cohen, Constantinides, Koo, Lancman, Rose, Van Bramer, Koslowitz, Vacca, Rosenthal, Rodriguez, Barron, Dromm and Mealy

Click here to view and comment on the text using Madison.

A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the online publication of city laws.

SUMMARY: This law improves New York City’s existing government publication, the City Record, and its website by mandating that all items currently in the paper copy of the City Record published by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) be included in the web version—with an open application program interface (API) to empower developers to create their own apps to track the city’s contract bids and awards.

The bill affects:

Companies looking for information on NYC bids and awards; Public watchdogs and journalists seeking to easily track awards; and Citizens who have a right to full, complete and usable information.


Be it enacted by the Council as follows: Section 1. Chapter 1 of title 7 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 7-111 to read as follows:

§7-111. Online publication of city laws. The corporation counsel shall make available through the city’s website a true and complete compilation of the charter, the administrative code, and the rules of the city of new york. Such compilation shall be in a searchable, machine-readable format or formats that are capable of being downloaded in bulk, and which are chosen for the purpose of making such compilations available to the greatest number of users and for the greatest number of applications. Such compilation shall be updated to reflect changes to such compilation no later than four weeks after such changes are made.

§ 2. This local law shall take effect one year after its enactment.
Details and Press Coverage for Both

Press Releases:

Press Coverage:

Case Study: Montgomery County (MD) Open Data Law

Below you will find a summary of the Open Data Law, authored by Councilmember Hans Riemer, that Montgomery County, Maryland passed in 2012. The law required the County Executive to develop an Open Data Operations Manual, which is also included below.

OPEN DATA LAW SUMMARY: * require the County to make certain public data sets available on a single web portal on the internet; * require the County to develop a technical standards manual for publishing public data sets; * require the County to develop an Open Data Implementation Plan; * require the County to include on the single web portal, a website that includes certain information on requests submitted to the County under the Maryland Public Information Act and the County’s response to that request; * require the Chief Administrative Officer to report to the Council on the Executive Branch’s responses to the Maryland Public Information Act; and * generally amend County law regarding administration.

Read the full legislative text

OPEN DATA OPERATIONS MANUAL SUMMARY: The Operations Manual is intended to be a comprehensive inventory of the public datasets maintained by the Montgomery County Government as well as a commitment to make these datasets publicly available by the publication dates specified in this document. The Manual also sets forth the algorithm for prioritizing which datasets to publish when.

Read the full Open Data Operations Manual, pdf