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7/1/2011
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Feds Debut Energy Management Site

Energy.Data.Gov, launched despite recent budget cuts, is aimed at inspiring people to use clean energy and become more efficient in their consumption through the release of information about federal energy usage.

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The White House has expanded its Data.gov online repository with a new satellite site called Energy.Data.Gov aimed at providing analytical data about energy use and performance in the United States.

The move comes despite the fact that a mere two weeks ago the feds said they would shut down hundreds of websites and freeze the development of new ones in a broad campaign by the Obama administration to eliminate wasteful spending.

Moreover, not long before that, U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra revealed that budget cuts had forced the administration to forgo making major enhancements to existing transparency sites like Data.gov, USASpending.gov, and others, as well as to cancel plans to build new ones that were in the works.

The Energy.Data.Gov community--as U.S. CIO Aneesh Chopra calls it in a White House blog post--seems to have escaped the budget problems. The new site is similar to other focused Data.gov spinoff sites on health and law data in that it will provide tools, datasets, and applications to provide information on a specific topic.

So far, Energy.Data.Gov includes 216 free datasets and tools gathered from various federal agencies to shed light on energy consumption within the federal government with the hope that the public will be inspired to adopt cleaner means of energy and other efficiency measures, according to Chopra.

"Our motivation in launching these communities is to harness the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit within each of you to catalyze the breakthroughs the President has challenged us to achieve in unleashing a clean energy economy," he wrote in the post. "To further our efforts in this regard, I called on technology and innovation leaders across the government to help scale best practices that embrace this model of open innovation, emphasizing the government's role as 'impatient convener.'"

The site includes applications, tools, and ideas about how people can better monitor and manage their energy consumption, according to Chopra. It also aims to foster education and entrepreneurship around new ways to save energy, including access to challenges, prizes and competitions for creating new energy-focused solutions.

By the end of the year, Energy.Data.Gov will include datasets on federal building energy use, how the feds plan to make improvements to energy efficiency, and a list of the government's energy consumptions and costs back to 1975 by agency and energy type, according to Chopra.

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