Data.gov not living up to expectations

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A more transparent federal government has been an important item on this administration's IT agenda. A centerpiece of that push has been data.gov, a website cataloging raw downloadable datasets.

So, almost one year since data.gov has gone live, how's it going?

Not well, according to Michael Daconta, a data guru who a few years ago valiantly attempted to make the data reference model of the federal enterprise architecture an operational construct. (These days he's chief technology officer at Accelerated Information Management of Vienna, Va.)

In an opinion piece published in FCW, Daconta lists ten reasons why data.gov isn't living up to its promise. He finds data set omissions, such as missing column definitions, formatting errors and duplicated fields, among other problems.

In a conversation, Daconta said a lot of the problems stem from thoughtless data dumps. "They're not really putting effort into thinking how are people going to use this," he said.

"If you're not thinking about how people are going to be using it, you're not helping, you're just checking a box. You should walk backward from how is the citizen going to use this," he added.

Daconta isn't the first person to be disappointed by data.gov. A geographic information system blogger, James Fee, wanted to download a data set in February, only to get a broken link message. "As with every government data repository before it, [data.gov] is broken," Fee grumbled.

In fact, since November there have been online rumblings that data.gov isn't all it's cracked up to be. A Sunlight Foundation ("cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable") blog posting charged that the raw data catalog "isn't living up to expectations, or even keeping in line with public statements."

For more on data.gov:
- check out Daconta's FCW opinion piece
- see James Fee's blog post
- see the Sunlight Foundation's blog post
- go directly to data.gov

Related Article:
Will Data.gov bring home the beef?