White House nears release of 3.5 million records, open data orgs still skeptical

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The White House announced it has released nearly 3.5 million records since beginning its open data initiative in 2009.

With the release of the September 2013 White House visitor records Dec. 27, the initiative has now opened up a total of 3.42 million records to the public, according to a statement.

The announcement comes a month after a major deadline in the Obama administration’s open data policy, an executive order aimed to make data more digitally accessible.

The deadline, which passed Dec. 1, required agencies to give the Office of Management and Budget a list of their public data. The data was to be placed on a website named with the agency name followed by .gov/data.

“Making information resources accessible, discoverable and useable by the public can help fuel entrepreneurship, innovation and scientific discovery,” said the executive order, which was signed May 9.

Many agencies created whole new positions or added responsibilities to current positions to handle the new open data standards.

As for the data that has already been released on websites such as data.gov and recovery.gov, open government organizations have found that while the amount of data has been fairly vast, the content, at times, has been paltry.

Government spending is the biggest hole in the data releases.

“The government is not making [spending] information available to citizens and it’s not making it useful,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition, in a recent panel.

The Sunlight Foundation scored agencies’ compliance to the first open data policy deadline, giving the entire executive branch a mediocre review.

Some agencies, including the Energy Department, went above and beyond by making its meta data searchable. On the other hand, the departments of Commerce, Defense and Veterans Affairs basically missed the deadline.

Some members of Congress have been pushing for a more expansive mandate for agencies to release data, especially in one authoritative website.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act has gone through numerous reiterations, most recently passing the House with only one dissenting vote. However, the bill has failed to reach the president’s desk.

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Barack Obama, data analytics, Data Transparency Coalition, Government IT News, Hudson Hollister, open data, open government, Sunlight Foundation, Tech, White House
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