June 10, 2009

Kundra on data.gov

Continuing the transparency discussion, the White House blog posted a piece on Monday by federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra that describes the suggestions his office received to make the information at data.gov more robust, reliable and open.

The Brainstorm phase of our open government outreach yielded a number of suggestions about how to improve access to data and metadata. Some general themes included:

  • Set clear agency targets for bringing agency data online;
  • Maintain a transparency dashboard to show progress towards releasing data;
  • Find new, standardized ways to inventory and prioritize agency data for publication in open, downloadable formats;
  • Collaborate with the third parties to continually improve Data.gov;
  • Make Data.gov as comprehensive as possible for non-classified information; and
  • Adopt data dictionaries to ensure that terms have the same meaning across agencies.

We also received some more technical suggestions, such as:

  • Adopt the latest innovative technologies for disseminating data, including RSS data feeds;
  • Create permalinks on the paragraph level to make documents easier to cite;
  • Standardize discovery and method calls to data sets;
  • Adopt better software for comparing relevance and meaning of documents to make government information more searchable;
  • Allow citizens to build their own applications on top of government online services; for example, using a "Services Oriented Architecture" approach;
  • Convert Depository Libraries around the country into Regional Data Centers;
  • Make the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) the off-site electronic backup data center for all agency e-record systems;
  • Make contributed data subject to a waiver of copyright and database rights using the "CCO" scheme from Creative Commons; and
  • Digitize all government research reports and make them available free via the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

We applaud Mr. Kundra for engaging the public on these important transparency issues. Only by acting on the suggestions received will data.gov be successful.