Open Data

The skinny on the White House's new open-government initiatives

Shutterstock image: black and white image of the White House during the day.

The White House's latest open-government plan includes four new or expanded initiatives aimed at promoting education to increase awareness and engagement, delivering government services more effectively through IT, increasing spending transparency and using big data to support openness and accountability.

Among the highlights:

  • A key role for the U.S. Digital Service team and 18F. The plan states that the government is going to continue recruiting "top digital talent" for 18F, USDS and federal agencies to scale agencies' best practices with a focus on the customer experience. People with expertise in technology, procurement, human resources and financing will serve as "digital professionals" in several capacities. The Obama administration said it will also continue to build on the Digital Services Playbook, which will play a role in creating several other components of the initiative. "The newly launched U.S. Digital Service will work to remove barriers to digital service delivery and remake the experience that people and businesses have with their government," the plan states.
  • Open source as a government standard. The plan also sets a deadline of the end of 2015 for creating and implementing an open-source software policy across government. The policy will support improved access to software code developed for the federal government. The plan also says the administration will use more open and transparent processes to design and develop digital services, conduct pilot projects and better understand user demand. "Using and contributing back to open-source software can fuel innovation, lower costs and benefit the public," the plan states.
  • Big hopes for federal spending transparency. In 2015, as part of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, the Office of Management and Budget must establish data standards for government spending. The open-government plan reaffirms that commitment and says the administration will "leverage industry data exchange standards to the extent practicable to maximize the sharing and utilization of federal financial data." Officials also plan to launch a refreshed USAspending.gov site with interactive maps, APIs and improved search functionality. The Treasury Department will use small-scale pilot projects to explore possibilities for visualizing and publishing spending data, as required by the DATA Act.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a former staff writer for FCW.

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