Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has never been shy about using new tools and methods to reach his audience. On Monday, he posted a blog on the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy's Web site on the topic of data transparency. While blogs may not seem that cutting edge in this day of Twitter and Facebook, only a small handful of public CIOs have used the social media tool to communicate in today's digital age.
As part of his campaign for more open government, Kundra assessed the administration's first attempts to unclog the federal government's data pipes to allow the public better access to "useful and unfiltered" government data. The effort, called Data.gov, uses an open architecture to make federal agency data available in multiple formats. The goal is to expose more than 100,000 data sets to public scrutiny but, so far, the site is populated by about 100 sources of information, according to some sources.
The Obama administration also invited comments about the site and its efforts to provide the public with raw and unfiltered data. Kundra summarizes those findings in his blog. Called the "brainstorm" phase of the government's outreach, some suggestions for improving access to data and metadata included:
- Set clear agency targets for bringing agency data online.
- Maintain a transparency dashboard to show progress toward releasing data.
- Find new, standardized ways to inventory and prioritize agency data for publication in open, downloadable formats.
- Collaborate with third parties to continually improve Data.gov.
Kundra also evaluated some feedback on the more technical issues involved with Data.gov, ranging from the use of RSS feeds, to better software for sifting through so much information, to letting citizens build their own applications using the government data.
Finally, he sets up the next phase of the transparency program by asking for a national discussion around three topics:
1. How agencies should expand their contributions
2. The types of data that should populate Data.gov
3. The types of applications that should be built by the government to leverage the data sets and make them more practical for individuals, institutions and businesses.
Kundra gives no time frame for when the federal government will move on the next phase of data transparency, but don't expect the federal CIO to wait long.