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Kundra's Choice: FedSpace R.I.P., Data.gov Soldiers On

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, May 24 2011

After Congress shrunk funding for the Electronic Government Fund as part of the recent budget debate, the waiting game has been on seeing what federal technology projects U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra would decide to cut, reduce, or otherwise save money on. Well, wait no more. Kundra has written a letter to interested Senator Tom Carper, reports Federal News Radio's Jason Miller, and it in he details which programs will be getting the heave-ho, and which would forge ahead, though in a diminished state. Two programs, reveals Kundra, are totally done for:

  • FedSpace is a collaboration platform for federal employees to share information and develop a community to solve problems. The General Services Administration runs FedSpace, but it was only in beta testing.
  • The Citizen Services Dashboard was expected to provide information about the quality of federal services, including timeliness, accuracy and customer satisfaction, to citizens. OMB hoped to add other services including using data to inform agency decisions making.

As for the big flagship sites -- Data.gov, the IT Dashboard, USASpending.gov -- will go on from here. But that doesn't mean all is well. Kundra and OMB won't be able to do the things they'd like to do to make those resources stellar. "We will not be able to fund development efforts to improve data accuracy through automation or streamlining," writes Kundra, "nor will funds be able to increase transparency." What's more, development will stop on Data.gov's communities of practice, that social layer of the site that was hoped to help boost adoption of open government data.

Which means that the 112th congress's cuts will be what people of future use as evidence that the open government movement on the federal level in the U.S. was never really given a fair shot at success. Or, as as the Sunlight Foundation's John Wonderlich just tweeted, "Congress has now given the adminisration [sic] an excuse for underperforming on their transparency promises."

Note: Our Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry are senior advisors to the Sunlight Foundation.

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