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They Gave Us The Beatles, We Gave Them

Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra talks about the migration of one of his efforts to expand transparency migrating overseas.

Taking a page from our efforts here in the Obama Administration, the United Kingdom today launched – a site to aggregate datasets from the UK government.  It is exciting to see the seeds of openness, accountability, and transparency taking root around the world. 

When we launched here at the White House website in May 2009, we had just 47 datasets online.  It was a modest start, but the growth we’ve seen has been phenomenal.  Today, there are more than 168,000 datasets online, and federal agencies are poised to publish new high-value information this week as the next step in Administration’s Open Government Initiative. 

But the U.S. and UK governments aren’t alone in data sites.  There is a nationwide movement to unlock public data.  Governments of all sizes are unlocking the value of data for their constituents.  Washington, D.C., San Francisco, the City of New York, the State of California, the State of Utah, the State of Michigan, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have launched sites, as have cities in Canada and the UK.  All of these sites are dedicated to breaking down longstanding barriers between governments and the people they serve -- facilitating collaboration and transforming dry data into tools that can improve people’s lives.

As we grow across the Administration, we are focused on releasing high-value datasets to increase agency accountability and responsiveness; improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations; create economic opportunity; or respond to need and demand as identified through public consultation.

For instance, 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 choices about the quality and cost of education; and when the Department of Labor makes safety information available, employers can better protect workers.

The Federal Government does not have a monopoly on the best ideas.  We are all part of an increasingly complex network of communities, ideas, and information.  We applaud today’s launch of  and look forward to working with the  international community to ensure that people across the world are actively engaged in helping find the most innovative paths to solve some of the toughest problems we face. Moreover, we are pleased to see that other governments share the Administration's philosophy that data availability will help change how government operates and empower citizens to participate in making government services more effective, accessible, and transparent.

Vivek Kundra is U.S. Chief Information Officer