About a year ago, Kingsley and I conjectured in a Twitter chat that history would remember the Obama administration for its advanced in government transparency. Kingsley proposed this position; my response was that I hoped he was right.
Now that Congress has decided to fix the nation's budget crisis by cutting a $35 million from transparency projects that have already saved a few billion dollars, it seems unlikely that history will agree with Kingsley. And I am to blame.
Why me? Because I have been a user of these sites since shortly after they were set up. Back in 2009, I led a workshop in how to use usaspending dashboard data, combined with the FEA, to gain insight into government IT spending. Last year, I put together a demo using data.gov sources to track violations to fair housing code for minorities of various types. Just this past week, I have used data.gov data to put together an exercise that will debut next week at Enterprise Data World. I have any number of complaints about these data sites that I will share with other curmudgeons and naysayers, but in the spirit of improving them, not removing them.
So why am I to blame for the closure of data.gov and the rest of its family? Because I haven't blogged about these things. I haven't done the marketing to let people know how amazing it is that our government has the guts to respect the principles of freedom it is supposed to defend, that it will show its dirty underwear to the world. I promised Kinsley last fall that I'd be blogging about the housing data solution - but I have yet to do it (blogging is hard!). I did write up a chapter for the second edition of Working Ontologist about data.gov, singing its praises, but that doesn't come out till June. (I also used Elizabeth Taylor as an example of a "living actress". Here's a new curse: "May Dean write about you in his book")
It is perhaps a bit ironic that at a time when our government announces severe budget shortfalls and is coming under close scrutiny by its citizens, one of its actions is to shut down easy access to government budget data. Sign the petition to save the data.