Half of funding for Data.gov, IT Dashboard restored in latest CR
Latest fiscal 2011 proposal calls for $17M, down from $34M last year
Although the budget battle is not over, transparency may be gaining: one recent federal funding bill would restore half the funding for the Obama Administration’s high-profile transparency programs that include Data.gov and the IT Dashboard.
Open government advocates in recent weeks have been trying to set aside $34 million in the fiscal 2011 budget to save Data.gov, USASpending.gov, the IT Dashboard and other federal transparency programs from drastic cuts. House and Senate spending bills in the last two months proposed to cut the transparency funding to just $2 million this fiscal year.
A continuing resolution submitted by House Republicans on April 4 includes $17 million for the General Services Administration’s Electronic Government Fund, which covers those programs and others. That would restore half of the $34 million, which was the fiscal 2010 enacted amount.
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The Sunlight Foundation, OMB Watch and other groups have urged Congress not to cut the transparency programs.
“As of this morning, more than 3,000 citizens have signed an open letter to Congress to save online transparency programs from a drastic budget cut; this is an increase of nearly 1,000 people in the last two days,” Daniel Schuman, policy counsel for the Sunlight Foundation, wrote on the group’s blog today.
“Our message is catching on and Congress is starting to pay attention,” Schuman added.
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, submitted a continuing resolution (HR 1363) as a temporary funding measure to prevent a government shutdown until April 15. Negotiations on the budget and shutdown were continuing today.
“This bill is not the preferable way to go forward, and I would greatly prefer to come to a final agreement with the Senate to put this long-overdue budget work behind us. However, we must maintain critical programs and services for the American people and protect our nation’s financial future,” Rogers said.
The e-government fund is administered by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra. It includes funding for federal cloud computing services; websites including the federal Information Technology Dashboard, USASpending.gov, Apps.gov and Data.gov; engagement platforms that include Challenge.gov; and social collaboration platforms for federal employees that include FedSpace.gov. According to the White House’s IT Dashboard, Data.gov has cost $8.3 million and USASpending.gov has cost $13.3 million.
Kundra on March 31 publicly released the software code for the IT Dashboard and for the TechStat toolkit, the set of protocols to develop performance data for the dashboard.
Kundra said he was releasing the software code to the public to foster open-source development efforts to improve the dashboard,
“Software developers will be able to collaborate, identify errors, develop enhancements, and recommend improvements to the Dashboard, and find new uses for it that we have not even imagined,” Kundra wrote in the White House blog on March 31.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.