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Changing the Way Washington Works

As the platform continues to grow and evolve, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra lays out the key principles that guide its development.

In order to democratize data and advance the President’s agenda of an open, transparent and participatory government, the platform was launched on May 21, 2009, with 47 datasets.  Today, we have over 118,000 datasets and have received more than 47 million hits.  Since the launch, many state, local and international governments have followed the path to democratize data through their own platforms.  From San Francisco to the United Kingdom, there is a global movement to share public sector data to unleash the creativity of citizens, drive transparency and ensure accountability. Data transparency can spur economic, scientific, and educational innovation by making it easier to build applications, conduct analysis, and perform research.

The current version of platform is just the beginning.  We’ve developed a Concept of Operations and would appreciate your input.  Following are the key principles as we continue to evolve

  1. Focus on Access is designed to increase access to government data as close to the authoritative source as possible. The goal is to strengthen our democratic institutions through a transparent, collaborative and participatory platform while fostering development of innovative applications (e.g. visualizations, mash-ups) and analysis by third parties. Policy analysts, researchers, application developers, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and the general public should have numerous resources for accessing, understanding and using the vast array of government datasets.
  2. Open Platform will use a modular architecture with application programming interfaces (API) to facilitate shared services for agencies and enable the development of third party tools.  The architecture, APIs and services will evolve based on public and agency input.
  3. Disaggregation of Data
    Data should be disaggregated from agency reports, tools or visualizations to enable direct access to the underlying data.
  4. Grow and Improve Through User Feedback
    Feedback should be used to identify high-value datasets, help set priorities for integration of new and existing datasets and improve the usability of data and applications.
  5. Program Responsibility
    Agency program executives and data stewards are responsible for ensuring information quality, providing context and meaning for data, protecting privacy and assuring information security.
  6. Rapid Integration
    Agencies should rapidly integrate current and new data into with sufficient documentation to allow the public to determine fitness for use in the targeted context.
  7. Embrace, Scale and Drive Best Practices will implement, enhance and propagate best practices for data and information management, sharing and dissemination across agencies, with our state, local and tribal partners as well as internationally.

The Administration is making available high-value data that helps promote national priorities and improve the everyday lives of Americans through  When the Department of Agriculture makes nutrition information available, families can make smarter eating choices.  When the Department of Education makes key information available about colleges and universities, students can make better-informed decisions about the quality and cost of their education.  When the Department of Labor makes safety information available, employers can better protect workers.

We’ve posted the Concept of Operations and invite you to join the dialogue on  Through initiatives like, we are laying a new foundation that changes the default setting of government from closed, opaque and secretive to open, transparent and participatory.

Vivek Kundra is the Federal Chief Information Officer