Access and Feeds

Open Data: Good Progress, But More Work is Needed

By Dick Weisinger

One year ago President Obama challenged government agencies to become more transparent and make publicly available data which the government had collected.   On January 21, 2009, President Obama said:

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

A major goal of the Open Government Initiative is to make data sets of information collected or generated by the government available for public access.  Government data sets have been posted to the web site  A survey by Socrata found that there is strong support for government open data.  Over the past two years since Obama announced the Open Government Initiative, a lot of progress has been made.  67.9 percent of citizens and 92.6 percent of government employees say that opening up information known by the government to the public is the right thing to do.  Citizens in particular said that they have a great interest in having access to government financial and public safety data.

To date, 48.1 percent of federal government agencies have already released at least one data set, and 55.6 percent have said that they believe that their organization has a mandate and the will to release data which they control.  There is a strong belief that private sector developers will be able to take data released by the government and with it be able to develop useful applications.  61.4 percent of citizens and 88.3 percent of government employees said they think that entrepreneurs and software developers will be able to transform the data into popular online resources.  43.6 percent of developers say that they are interested in government open data because they feel that their contributions will be able to make a significant impact on people’s lives.

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