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10/1/2009
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Federal Stimulus-Tracking Site To Open APIs

Among the next steps for the recently revamped Recovery.gov are improved search, mapping, and mobile access, and open APIs.

The U.S. government's relaunched Recovery.gov site boasts an improved interface, new graphics, and other upgrades. The company that manages the site, Smartronix, is now planning the next round of changes, including making APIs available to third-party developers.

Recovery.gov, which makes data on federal stimulus spending available to the public, is about to get an injection of data on how taxpayer money is being spent. Stimulus recipients are required to submit their initial round of data by October 10, and Smartronix will post that data by the end of the month.

Smartronix, the company heading up the up to $18 million Recovery.gov project, and its partners, including Synteractive, plan to introduce new and improved search and navigation functionality, data visualization, mobile access, and an open API to give developers easier access to government data, Smartronix CTO Robert Groat and Synteractive CEO Evan Burfield said in an interview.

"I don't think it's a stretch to say that Recovery.gov is a prototype for 'gov 2.0,' " Burfield said. "It's your definition of improving citizen engagement. It was rapidly set up. It has live data."

Before they add functionality, however, they will have to accommodate an expected surge in stimulus spending data. So far, most of the data on Recovery.gov has been supplied through integration with federal government procurement systems and directly from federal agencies. Recipients will submit an array of data on contracts, grants, and loans, including descriptions of what they're doing or plan to do with the money, how far along the projects are, estimated number of jobs created, activities completed within the last quarter, and details on subcontractors.

The site is built on Microsoft's SharePoint 2007 platform, tested with Amazon Web Services, and incorporates technologies from Microsoft, ESRI and Level 3 Communications.

Content management is a key requirement for Recovery.gov. The site originally used the open source Drupal software, but Drupal fell short in the areas of manageability and security. SharePoint's enterprise features were a better match, and SharePoint now serves as Recovery.gov's content management and presentation layers. "We wanted something that would work out of the box and cut down our time to solution," Burfield said.

Recovery.gov runs on Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, and uses the FAST search technology acquired by Microsoft. SQL Server Integration Services load data from other sources and transform it for use on Recovery.gov, while SQL Server Reporting Services funnel data into interactive and static reports.

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