November 16, 2009

The dismal state of Data.gov

While Recovery.gov has gotten most of the attention (and blame) in the White House's push for increased governmental transparency, don't forget the lower profile efforts at Data.gov

The Sunlight Foundation has reviewed Data.gov and their findings are not encouraging.

Despite Vivek Kundra's May 2009 claim that there would be "hundreds of thousands" of data feeds in the coming months, we are half-way through November and the site currently boasts a paltry 600.

The most prominent data sets are the "toxics release inventories" broken down by state. They currently comprise 293 of the 600 data sets made available on the site.

Curious to see what is contained in them, I searched for "Nevada" and was presented with six results. Even though the site claims the data is available in a spreadsheet-compatible format, clicking on it presents you with an executable file that must be unzipped. Why not just give me a file I can open directly in a spreadsheet? Why make me jump through this hoop?

Also make sure to check out the comments posted on the Sunlight blog post. The first one is especially enlightening.