The DorobekInsider transparency, openness and data.gov reader

Significant milestones for the Obama transparency initiative. And a lot of good stuff out there to read about it. The DorobekInsider “reader” series try to pull the best of those links together in one place. (Earlier, we had the DorobekInsider CTO reader.)

From the Obama administration

The White House has an over all fact sheet on the transparency and open government initiative. But some of the big sites…

* WhiteHouse.gov/open
The site: whitehouse.gov/open/
This is the Obama open government Web site — the place from which you can find everything else.

Advertisement

* Data.gov
The site: www.data.gov
One of the big initiatives by Obama CIO Vivek Kundra, and was done fairly quickly. When Kundra was the chief technology officer for Washington, DC, he created DC’s Data Catalogue, where machine readable data was posted online. From there, DC sponsored the now famous Apps for Democracy, where the District offered up a prize for the best applications developed using those data sets. The Sunlight Foundation is now conducting Apps for America 2, where there is a big prize for the best applications developed using data.gov data. More on that in a moment. Federal News Radio 1500AM’s Jason Miller spoke to Kundra about this. You can hear Miller on the Daily Debrief here… and his full interview with Kundra here. And here is what Data.gov says aboug Data.gov:

Welcome to Data.gov
The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federaldatasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, Data.gov will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

How to use Data.gov
Data.gov includes a searchable data catalog that includes access to data in two ways: through the “raw” data catalog and using tools. Please note that by accessing datasets or tools offered on Data.gov, you agree to the Data Policy, which you should read before accessing any dataset or tool. If there are additional datasets that you would like to see included on this site, please suggest more datasets here. For more information on how to use Data.gov, view our tutorial.

*  Suggest an idea
http://opengov.ideascale.com/
The Obama open government dialogue, where through May 28, the administration is seeking your ideas on transparency and openness. Like Recovery.gov’s National Dialogue earlier this year, the open government dialogue is being run with the National Academy of Public Administration.

* Obama transparency and openness blog
http://www.whitehouse.gov/open/blog/
Yes, there is a blog… andthe lead item describes the initiative and the announcements, and it includes a video from Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, about this initiative. You can also read OMB Director Peter Orzag’s blog post about all of this here.

* Innovation gallery
http://www.whitehouse.gov/open/innovations/
The WhiteHouse.gov/open site includes a “gallery” of innovative ideas.

The Innovations Gallery celebrates the innovators and innovations who are championing the President’s vision of more effective and open government. In the Innovations Gallery, the public can browse examples of new ways in which agencies across the Executive branch are using transparency, participation, and collaboration to achieve their mission.

* The Jan. 21, 2009 Obama transparency memo
The President’s January 21, 2009, memorandum entitled, Transparency and Open Government, that directed the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, to develop a set of recommendations that will inform an Open Government Directive.

Outside the administration

* Apps for America 2
http://sunlightlabs.com/contests/appsforamerica2/
I mentioned this earlier, but… it will be fascinating to watch. On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Sunlight Foundation executive director and founder Ellen Miller about transparency, data.gov, and Apps for America 2. You can hear that conversation here.

From the Sunlight Foundation press release on the Data.gov Mash-up Challenge:

In collaboration and with financial support from Craig Newmark, founder of Craiglist and Sunlight board director; Google; O’Reilly Media and TechWeb, Sunlight is offering over $25,000 in prizes, and will award the winners at a ceremony at the Gov 2.0 Summit hosted by O’Reilly Media and TechWeb on September 8, 2009. The grand prize is $10,000. Additionally, Sunlight is offering one second place award of $5,000, one third place award of $2,500 and 10 honorable mentions at $500 each. Sunlight will also award a bonus prize of $2,500 for the best visualization of the data on Data.gov. (This visualization prize may be given in addition to the prizes mentioned above.) The first, second and third prize winners (and the visualization prize winner if not one of the first, second or third place winners) will also receive airfare and hotel placement for a trip to Washington, DC.

Entries must be applications that use any of the data sources or content on Data.gov. They can be, but are not limited to, client applications, Web based applications, applications that use the Adobe AIR platform, iPhone apps and Java applications. Sunlight also encourages contestants to use one of its open source libraries of government information or APIs, or those of its partners, including the new MAPLight.org Congress API, the OpenSecrets API or the FollowtheMoney.org API.

What others are saying

A lot written about all of this in recent days.

I mentioned earlier that I wrote my May column in AFCEA’s Signal magazine about transparency. You can find a link to that column — and more about it — here. I also posted the Federal Register notice on this yesterday as well.

On Federal News Radio 1500 AM

I mentioned that Jason Miller spoke to Kundra about Data.gov. Find that here… And Frank Reeder, former director of the Office of Administration and president of the Reeder Group, was on the Federal Drive this morning talking about these issues. Hear that conversation here.

NextGov: White House launches open government initiative

TechPresident.com’s Micah Sifry and Nancy Scola: White House Opens Doors on Major Open Government Initiative. Great insights… (They also have a excellent post — and I noticed it too — that the White House has not updated the speeches section of WhiteHouse.gov in three months. Scola also noticed that on “suggest an idea” site, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), under the handle “republicanleaderjohnboehner,” has suggested an idea.)

Finally — and in some ways, I’m saving the best for last — as Data.gov was release, there was some really insightful analysis on Twitter — so it was analysis in 140 characters or less. One of the best was Mike Mathieu of Seattle, Wash., a civic software entrepreneur, founder of Front Seat, Walk Score, ObamaCTO. He noted that some of the data had already been posted online elsewhere, and that the catalog for data.gov is not available in a machine readable format yet. He also recommended that data.gov needs an open community discussion forum for each source.

All of that being said, this was done very quickly — kudos — and it is just a start. (If the government doesn’t end up building a discussion forum, I bet you Mathieu — or somebody — will build it. Ah — government as a platform.) This is just a start, but… there is a lot here for us to all sift through over the Memorial Day weekend.

One other related but unrealted blog post worth reading comes from Bev Godwin, who is with GSA on loan to the White House new media team. She has written a blog post about many of the ways government is using new media.