Government // Open Government
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1/28/2014
03:30 PM
Wyatt Kash
Wyatt Kash
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Why Free Government Data Remains A Tough Sell

Open government data holds great economic promise. But solving the technical hurdles addresses only part of the challenge of bringing the data to market.

White House Deputy CTO Nick Sinai speaking Jan. 23, 2014, at the ITIF's Center for Data Innovation forum.
White House Deputy CTO Nick Sinai speaking Jan. 23, 2014, at the ITIF's Center for Data Innovation forum.

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 10:00:03 PM
Bureaucracy
...and then there's a public bid process for vendors to aggregate, organize, and present the data on a public website that they build...which just gets all screwed up anyway (see: Healthcare.gov).

It's a no-win situation -- especially because the majority of taxpayers have no need for any of the data.
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
1/28/2014 | 10:38:13 PM
Re: Bureaucracy
Saying the most citizens aren't interested in the data is a bit cynical and short sighted.  To paraphrase Joel Gurin in the article, what if Ronald Reagan had decided the same thing about GPS data?
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 10:06:20 AM
Re: Bureaucracy
Right. I don't think it's a no-win situation. There already have been early wins. The question is more like: How much data and which kinds of data to make public? We'll learn more as we go along.
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2014 | 10:48:48 AM
Re: Bureaucracy
That's right Rob. Another thing to keep in mind is that agencies are also building tools to let the public access their government held data... and help them with tasks, such as applying for financial aid.  For instance:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's is exploring opportunities to help consumers access their own
Government-held financial records online, such as tax returns. Students, for instance, need this information to apply for aid and scholarships, as well as to enroll in programs to help them repay their loans. As a part of this overall effort, the IRS is launching Get Transcript, which will give taxpayers the ability to view, print and download their tax transcripts

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Financial Aid Toolkit at financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov
as an online " one stop shop" for financial aid resources, aimed at guidance counselors, community-based  organizations, and others who help students select and finance their higher education. The Financial Aid Toolkit
Consolidates into one searchable online database a full range of financial aid resources covering the entire financial aid lifecycle — from applying for financial aid to repaying student loans.

These tools are part of the open data ecosystem.

 
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 4:34:05 PM
Government isn't interested in being open or transparent
Let's also add into this equation the PACER website which allows users to obtain case/docket info from federal, appellate, district and bankruptcy courts, but only if they pay for it.  Since court records are freely accessible to anyone in the courthouse of the case that interests you, it is tantamount to transparency/open access to keep the electronic access free.  Of course, the government disagrees and insists it only charges for the "printed" pages but how electronically accessed pages are considered printed is a mystery.  Just another excuse to squeeze every last nickel out of taxpayers who have already paid for the court records in the first place.
WKash
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50%
WKash,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2014 | 6:25:04 AM
Re: Government isn't interested in being open or transparent
asksqn ,

Do you have any more details on who's actually performing the service?  Is it reallly the govt? or a third party. There are many examples where the cumbersome way govt works has allowed third parties to profit on the govt's own inefficiencies.
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