How "Open Gov" Datasets Affect Parents and Consumers

On December 8, 2009, the Administration issued the Open Government Directive to hardwire the values of transparency, participation and collaboration into the DNA of the Federal government.  Around here, we call the general effort "Open Gov." You can learn more about it here: WhiteHouse.gov/open.

As part of the Directive, federal agencies have answered the President’s call by democratizing hundreds of high-value datasets on every aspect of government operations.  While this is meaningful for the technology community and transparency advocates who have been working on this issue for years, the data released will have direct impact on the daily lives of the American people.  Here are three examples to consider:

  • Parents can make better decisions when buying a car seat for their newborn because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data rating child safety seats for ease of use, simplicity of instructions and vehicle installation features
  • Consumers can make intelligent decisions when buying a car because the Department of Transportation released details behind automobile safety and crash ratings gathered during crash and rollover tests conducted at their research facilities
  • As Norm Eisen mentioned in his earlier post (which has a few other good examples), entrepreneurs, researchers and healthcare professionals can access Medicare Part B data to analyze the cost, volume and types of services delivered to meet the needs of Medicare beneficiaries because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released data that used to cost $100 and was delivered on CD-ROM, for free via Data.gov

The Obama Administration is committed to unlocking public data to drive innovation by tapping into the ingenuity of the American people; increase agency accountability; and change the default setting of Washington to be open, transparent and participatory.  For far too long, government data has been locked within the four walls of Washington and confined to a selected group of people. President Obama has said, “information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset.”  This is why, on his first full day in office, the President charged agencies to harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online.

To institutionalize a culture of open government, on February 6 we will launch a public dashboard to provide an ongoing assessment of the Executive Branch’s progress against the Directive.  You'll be able to find that at WhiteHouse.gov/open.

Vivek Kundra is the Federal Chief Information Officer

Your Federal Tax Receipt