Drupalists, Get Ready For More Open Government Data
by Joshua Smith
The latest round in the virtuous cycle of open government data reform is Congressional leaders’ support for open data legislation at the Data Transparency Conference 2013, held on September 10th.
Many of us in the digital government and Drupal communities have been excited to see recent progress in government transparency. Specifically, the open data policy announced by the White House on May 9th, 2013 that mandates “the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable.” Access to the Federal government’s growing catalog of data sets and collection of APIs gives Drupalists new options for modules, web applications, and even business models. The policy sets high expectations and requires a lot from Federal agencies. Barrett Smith’s recent blog series helps government leaders understand what the new policy requires and how Drupal can help.
At the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue another open data storm is brewing. On September 10th, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Data Transparency Conference 2013 (#opendata2013) put on by the Data Transparency Coalition. The Coalition is a trade association promoting an open data agenda to Congress, and currently focused on passing the DATA Act bill into law. Despite all the progress and promises government agencies have made about opening up spending data, the DATA Act is Congress’ way of saying “not good enough.” In the legislative keynote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor explained the focus on spending data, “Transparency to me means accountability. It means more eyeballs on the way that government operates, on its spending patterns.”
If passed into law, the Act would standardize and publish all federal financial reporting in a machine-readable format. The law would make government-wide aggregations by recipient, agency, and account possible for the first time, and open to the public. The enthusiasm White House, Congressional, and tech industry leaders displayed at the conference for this reform gives me hope that, one way or another, we’ll get access to standardized spending data soon.
With a growing collection of APIs and Congressional leaders stumping to publish machine-readable spending data, Drupalists with an interest in government data have a lot to look forward to. In the coming months, remember to check in with the Coalition for progress on the DATA Act and check in with our blog to hear more about Drupal and open government.