Agencies seek API, mobile feedback at the 11th hour

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On the eve of agencies' Aug. 23 deadline under the White House's digital government strategy, the State Department and National Archives and Records Administration sought public feedback on their open data and mobile efforts.

In an Aug. 22 blog post, Janice Clark, director of the office of website management in the State Department's bureau of public affairs, asked the public what data it would like made available via web application programming interfaces, or APIs. The department identified seven API candidates. It also asked which of eight services should be optimized for mobile use.

Director of Open Government at NARA Meredith Stewart posted Aug. 23 a similar inquiry into which API, of six possible options, and which of eight mobile services it should make available as part of its digital government efforts.

Neither department's blog posts said for how long they would accept public comments or noted the selection deadline. Under the strategy, by Aug. 23 agencies were required to identify at least two existing major customer-facing services that contain high-value data or content to be made available as an API, and engage with customers to identify at least two existing priority customer-facing services to optimize for mobile.

During a July 25 webinar, Clark said State was having a tough time determining how it would "shoehorn" its content and data into APIs. "Our challenge is figuring out which of our content would be appropriate," she said.

Requests for public feedback through blog posts and crowdsourcing via IdeaScale have been common engagement techniques for agencies. Earlier this month, the Commerce and Education departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation posted requests for feedback on their API selection.

Other agencies were a few steps ahead, however. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Aug. 6 unveiled the two APIs and two mobile services it would focus on. The Census Bureau on Aug. 9 released its first mobile app and plans for two more in the fall. In late July the agency published its first two APIs.

For more:
- read the State Department blog post
- read the NARA blog post

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