Open Data

What's coming in Data.gov's next revamp

data abstract 

The federal government data repository Data.gov is due for a revamp, according to contracting documents released as part of a sole-source extension granted to contractor REI.

The six-month extension is required, according to the General Services Administration, to complete the migration to new infrastructure and to continue work on new features. While the value of the extension is very small by federal contracting standards, just over a half-million dollars, the documentation included to justify the move gives a clear picture of the next steps for the nascent data site.

The extension gives REI runway to work on security for Data.gov. The site obtained a one-year provisional authority to operate in March of this year, and extensive documentation is required in order to grant Data.gov a three-year ATO.

Additionally, the code behind Data.gov is due for modernization. Currently the site runs on an open source platform called CKAN, but on a version that has been superseded. Developers have had to customize the code to keep using the older version, but developers are looking to more fully embrace an open source solution without relying on custom code.

REI is also deeply involved in the process of an automation plan with the goal of "infrastructure as code," in which testing, deployments, security, monitoring and audits are all automated. The process requires the vendor to understand both the automation technologies and the particular functions of Data.gov, such as harvesting metadata from a variety of federal, state and local agency sites, and supporting access to a catalog of the data.

The Data.gov project is also trying to become more geospatially oriented. One key piece of the puzzle, according to contracting documents, is developing code to translate multiple geospatial metadata standards into a single standard.

Developers are also trying to expand data hosting solutions for small agencies not covered by the open data policy mandate. A government-facing site at inventory.data.gov allows small agencies to manage their data inventories and metadata, but so far use is limited and demand is growing. The Data.gov program management office will roll out several data hosting pilots for agency use later this year.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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