Open Source Government


This is good:

By January 22, 2010, each agency must post online three “high-value” data sets via and assign a senior staffer to be accountable for the quality of the data. By Feb. 6, 2010, each agency is required to set up its own website and the White House will set up an “open government dashboard” that aggregates data at And one year from today, “Each agency with a significant backlog of outstanding Freedom of Information requests shall take steps to reduce any such backlog by ten percent each year.”

Patrice McDermott, director of, praised the directive as well, but offered the sole sour note of the day so far.

“The agencies are all each required to put up these open government plans,” McDermott said, according to CNET, “but there’s no indication of who's going to oversee [them] and oversee [their] implementation and the quality of their implementation. It’s as if the OMB is expecting the public to do this.”

via Open Government Directive: Obama Moves On Transparency Promise.

A model for access to open data, for instance, is the people who make websites that break down sports, business and or politics from an economists viewpoint using publicly available data. Sports sites such as, and others provide novel analysis based upon freely available data, information and multimedia. Namely athletic contest game video, official statistic sheets and their own data collection/observations to better quantify athletic performance.

Political sites like,, use public voter registration records, election returns and demographic data along with their own polls to more to give their readers better understanding of the political landscape.

Call it sabremetrics for government. (Barack-o-metrics? Silvernomics?) Many different public policy enthusiasts will begin to build models to evaluate the data provided by the government and possibly suggest policy changes, find spending waste and/or errors in data collection.

A potential problem is data sets which are not properly secured and anonymized by government data-marts and data warehouses (marts and warehouses are basically databases used for aggregating data vs. time and other variables for retrieval, review and reporting in a future). I imagine much of the data will be generated from information that includes private information of US Citizens. Another issue is an employee using their access to steal information. Kundra had a subordinate engaged in data theft when he was CTO, he can’t let this happen here.

The job of the administration’s CIO Vivek Kundra should be to make sure first and foremost that none of the published data can be used to reverse engineer identity information or for other nefarious purposes and that none of his subordinates do their own illegal data extractions.

Even with those concerens, I am looking forward to the open source government.