Today marks one year since we released the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), as part of the President’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people.
The Strategy is built on the proposition that all Americans should be able to access information from their Government anywhere, anytime, and on any device; that open government data - data that are publicly accessible in easy-to-use formats - can fuel innovation and economic growth; and that technology can make government more transparent, more efficient, and more effective.
A year later, there’s a lot to be proud of:
In twelve months, the Federal Government has significantly shifted how it thinks about digital information - treating data as a valuable national asset that should be open and available to the public, to entrepreneurs, and others, instead of keeping it trapped in government systems. We jump-started this process by releasing hundreds of government datasets via machine-readable formats known as application programming interfaces (APIs). These APIs - which encompass datasets as varied as home and business energy trends to real-time earthquake notifications around the world - can be used by private-sector developers to create new applications and services. You can even access the current weather on Mars, transmitted from the Curiosity Rover. To facilitate the creation of new and useful digital tools, each agency released its own developer pages, and Data.gov launched a government-wide API directory to make these resources easier to find and use. Additionally, Data.gov transitioned its central catalog to an open source platform, enabling automated aggregation of data directly from agencies’ websites to Data.gov. Finally, in a landmark action, the President recently released a historic Executive Order and Open Data Policy, making open and machine-readable the new default for government data.
The Federal Government and the American people cannot afford to have each agency build isolated and duplicative technology solutions. Instead, we must use modern platforms for digital services that can be shared across agencies. To maximize the value of our investments in technology, we launched a Digital Services Innovation Center that launched Sites.USA.gov to help agencies build plug-and-play websites and created the Mobile Application Development Program to help agencies plan, test, develop and launch mobile apps. Additionally, the Administration is participating in open source communities, using crowdsourcing, and launching government-wide solutions to increase efficiencies. To leverage the government’s buying power, we established a government-wide mobile and wireless contract vehicle that acts as a “family plan” for the Federal Government, which we anticipate will save taxpayers $300 million over the next five years. Through this vehicle and the new Managed Mobility Program at GSA, agencies can better centralize management of devices and strengthen security of the government’s mobile platforms.
Citizens shouldn’t have to struggle to access the information they need. To ensure that the American people can easily find government services, we implemented a government-wide Digital Analytics Program across all Federal websites. That means for the first time, we have insight about what information the public is looking for, where they’re looking for it, and if they’re able to find it - essential to our goal of easing access to government information. We are also optimizing Federal websites for mobile devices and creating mobile apps to ensure government services are available to citizens anywhere, anytime and on any device. For example, the new USAJobs app from the Office of Personnel Management makes it easier for job seekers to search and apply for jobs with their mobile devices, and the SaferBus app from the Department of Transportation allows users to access a bus company’s safety performance record and file a complaint from their mobile devices. These are just two of the many mobile products we’ve released as part of the Digital Government Strategy.
Security and Privacy
Throughout all of these efforts, maintaining cyber security and protecting privacy have been paramount. Because mobile devices and wireless networks have unique security challenges, we published the first government-wide mobile and wireless security baseline, to help agencies identify appropriate security solutions and share them across the Federal Government.
In the end, the digital strategy is all about connecting people to government resources in useful ways. And by “connecting” we mean a two-way street. We are counting on the public - developers, entrepreneurs and innovators - to join us, and be a part of the process. Together, we will continue to modernize government to respond to 21st Century opportunities.
Steve VanRoekel is the U.S. Chief Information Officer and Administrator. Todd Park is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.