Open Government Highlights
- Recalls.gov and Mobile App: To alert the American people to unsafe, hazardous, or defective products, six federal agencies have joined together to create recalls.gov—a "one-stop shop" for U.S. Government recalls, providing consumers with up-to-date product safety information. Users can download mobile phone apps to find the information by typing a product’s name into a phone and learning immediately whether that product has been recalled because of a safety concern. Consumers can also see photos of recalled products and learn what to do with recalled products in their homes.
- My TSA and FlyOnTime: In July 2010, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) launched “My TSA,” a mobile phone app that gives users 24/7 access to information that passengers frequently request from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including a partly “crowd-sourced” feature of providing security line wait times. MyTSA provides a tool to permit people to find whether an item is allowed in carry-on or checked baggage, information on ID requirements and liquids rules, tips for packing and dressing to speed through security, and real-time operating status for U.S. airports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Similarly, FlyOnTime uses information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (made available on data.gov), to allow consumers to see estimated versus actual arrival times for flights on major commercial carriers.
- Daily Air Quality Data: The U.S. EPA, NOAA, NPS, tribal, state, and local agencies developed AIRNow.gov to provide members the public with easy access to air quality information where they live. This site offers daily AQI forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the US, and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality sites. The site links to collaborations with Google Earth and other sites, and the data supports local government initiatives, such as the L.A. area’s South Coast Air Quality Management District’s iPhone Air Quality app. The EPA also released its own UV Index mobile phone app.
- FDA Transparency Initiative: The FDA has launched its widely-praised Transparency Initiative, which includes ambitious recommendations for enhancing the transparency of the agency’s operations and decision-making processes. In June 2010, the FDA launched a web page where users can find summaries of safety information about recently approved drugs and a brief discussion of any steps that FDA may be taking to address safety issues. Through the Transparency Task Force, blog, and solicitations of public input, the Initiative provided information about commonly misunderstood agency activities and FAQs, and is currently working to implement disclosures of FDA-held data.
- Information Technology (IT) Dashboard: The Information Technology dashboard, launched in July 2009, gives the public and agency leaders unprecedented visibility into the operations and performance of Federal IT investments, and the ability to provide direct feedback to those involved. By making these data publicly available in a way the American people can easily understand, the IT Dashboard puts extra eyes on federal information technology initiatives and puts taxpayers in a position to hold the government accountable for progress and results. This past year, the IT Dashboard enabled the VA to discover that 45 projects were significantly over budget, behind schedule or both. Those projects were halted; and the VA stopped a number of them. Together, the cost savings from the stopped projects is $54 million.
- Recovery.gov Dashboard: Recovery.gov is the U.S. government’s official website that provides easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse. The site features user-friendly tools to track Recovery Act funds -- how and where they are spent -- in the form of charts, graphs, and maps, which the site continues to enhance and refine, from the national overview down to specific zip codes.
- Fatalities and Catastrophes Weekly Reports from OSHA: In late 2009, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) began requiring reports of workplace fatalities and catastrophes within eight hours, and producing weekly reports compiling this data. Fatality data is clearly available on osha.gov. These data provide workplace safety information to the general public, and provides an additional incentive for businesses to increase workplace safety.
- Healthcare.gov: Healthcare.gov is a consumer information website mandated by the Affordable Care Act and launched in June 2010. It enables users to “Find Insurance Options,” “Learn About Prevention Tips,” “Compare Care Quality,” and “Understand the New Law.” Healthcare.gov is the first website to collect both public and private health insurance options across the nation in a single place. The insurance options finder automatically sorts through this huge catalog of options to help identify the best options for consumers. Other highlights of the site include extensive, tailored information about consumer rights, navigating the health insurance marketplace, and the ACA. Click here to see President Obama demo healthcare.gov.
- CMS Dashboard: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Dashboard is a user-friendly tool that lets the public track and analyze Medicare spending. The initial version of the dashboard lets users track and graph Medicare spending by state, by “diagnosis-related group” (DRG), and by inpatient hospital spending.
- Automobile Safety and Infant Car Seats: The Department of Transportation has promoted informed choices by releasing new material about automobile safety and crash ratings, along with data rating child safety seats for ease of use, simplicity of instructions, and vehicle installation features.
- Crime and Justice Data: The Department of Justice (DOJ) has published dozens of datasets involving crime, enforcement, and prison at justice.gov/open/data and data.gov, and is preparing many more for future release.
- Department of Labor Searchable Enforcement Database: The Searchable Enforcement Database provides the public with one-stop access to enforcement data across DOL (e.g. Mines and Chemical Hazards). Making this data accessible creates greater corporate accountability and empowers workers to make informed choices.
- Department of Justice’s FOIA Dashboard: DOJ’s dashboard will contain all available data on FOIA compliance by 92 Federal agencies as well as interactive tools to help keep citizens informed of the federal government’s compliance with FOIA. The Dashboard’s interactive tools will enable users to present FOIA data in easy-to-read graphics and generate statistics on FOIA compliance across the government and over time.
- DOE Green Energy: This Department of Energy site provides information about various forms of green energy, including solar, wind, bioenergy, hydroelectric, and geothermal. This portal allows researchers, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, students, and the public to search technical reports and patent information on different types of renewable energy resources and energy conservation.
- OIRA Dashboard: OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has provided citizens and stakeholders with a new window onto regulatory activity through the “OIRA Dashboard,” launched in February 2010. The dashboard allows visitors to find and sort coming rules by agency, length of review, economic significance, and stage of rulemaking. Links encourage feedback and allow users to submit comments on rules as well. With the help of intuitive and graphical displays, the Dashboard makes it easier for people to identify the rule or category of rules that interest them, and allows them to monitor progress.
- GSA’s Challenges and Prizes Platform: GSA will soon launch a platform for federal agencies to use challenges, prizes and other incentives-based strategies to find new or cost-effective measures to improve open government. This program is similar to defensesolutions.gov, a “new idea” portal for DoD, except with cash prizes. The platform could become an important source of new ideas for the federal government.
- GSA’s Citizen Engagement Platform: After the successful launch of GSA’s apps.gov, the federal cloud computing storefront, GSA announced that it is building a software service storefront for citizen engagement. The platform will allow government agencies to easily develop and deploy blogs, wikis, forums and a URL shortener to foster a dialogue with citizens. The tools are modeled after delivery best practices developed by Google and GoDaddy, and an initial version of the storefront is available within GSA.
- OSTP’s Research & Development Dashboard: In accordance with the e-Government Act of 2002, OSTP is building on the successes of USASpending.gov with a federal R&D Dashboard, currently under construction. Making the outlay process for R&D more transparent should help the public better understand the return on investment for technology R&D.
- FACA 2.0: To improve the quality of expert advice in government, OSTP is working with various agencies on expert networking tools and techniques to connect the institutions of government to professional networks to inform policymaking with the best, interdisciplinary scientific advising. This means that the FDA, for example, can get expert input from doctors, nurses, patients, and scientists as well as from drug companies.
- Fed Reg 2.0: In July 2010, the National Archives celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Federal Register, the daily newspaper of government and government's most read publication, by launching a new online version at http://www.federalregister.gov. Federal Register 2.0 (FR 2.0) represents an historic milestone in making government more accessible and open to the American people. Instead of dense, hard to read PDFs, FR 2.0 is graphical and searchable by topic or location. Think USA.gov meets USA Today! Every paragraph has its own hyperlink for easy citation. Every entry can be exported to social media for easy discussion. Cited rules and statutes are linked from within the text. The code for the new site is available on GitHub and the Federal Register content on data.gov.
- Department of Commerce’s Virtual CommerceConnect: CommerceConnect is a program that streamlines access to government services and solutions designed to aid American businesses, providing a single access point for all the information and services provided by the government to help a business stay competitive in the 21st century. This program could provide a template for agencies like the SBA to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to access the 8(a) certification for small businesses and other programs.
- Department of Defense’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record: On April 9, 2009, President Obama announced a DoD pilot program: the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER). VLER will eventually contain all of a soldier’s administrative and health information beginning the day a soldier enters military service, and continuing after he or she leaves the military. The seamless delivery of health care and benefits for service members and veterans could be a model for interoperability and portability of electronic health records for the general public.
- Education’s Open Innovation Portal: In February 2010, the Department of Education launched the Open Innovation Portal, which encourages collaboration among education professionals to help tackle difficult educational problems. Challenges are posted on the website, and members are asked to come up with their ideas on how to tackle the issues. Users can also post ideas unrelated to the challenges that they believe will lead to improvements in education. Website users can rate the ideas and are invited to post comments so that their suggestions on how to improve the idea can be incorporated. People who submit ideas often revise them to reflect comments received. The website can play a role in generating good ideas as well as help to disseminate them across the education profession.
- NASA’s Open Source Software Development: NASA’s open source development lets the public access NASA’s most advanced software technology directly, and lowers the barrier to enter into space technology development by removing copyright restrictions. NASA has also made it easier for non-NASA software developers to contribute to NASA projects through its Contributor License Agreements. This could provide an example for development and use of open source software elsewhere in government.
- U.S. Army Field Manual Wiki: The U.S. Army has adopted a new approach to updating some of the roughly 500 field manuals: It started in fall 2009 putting its manuals on a wiki format so that any soldier could edit them, taking advantage of the skills and knowledge of staff affected by the manuals. Seven manuals have been wiki-fied so far, including cold weather operations. Any soldier can make an edit, but changes are subject to review by a central team.
- SAVE Award: Last year, the White House attracted 38,000 submissions under the President’s SAVE award program. OMB staff assessed the ideas, passing back the most promising ones to agencies to include as part of their budget plans. Already some of these proposals are becoming reality. For example, the Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it is changing the default setting for its payroll statements from paper to electronic. This means employees will receive their regular payroll data electronically instead of getting stacks of paper earnings statements by mail.
- Public-Private Partnerships: HHS and NASA: By making public health data available and accessible, HHS’s Community Health Data Initiative is encouraging innovators to develop applications that empower individuals and communities to make informed choices about their health. The first round of the Initiative generated more than a dozen promising tools, such as an interactive community health dashboard that allows civic leaders and citizens to see a “report card” of health performance in their county and learn about the latest best practices from other communities. NASA’s Innovation Pavilion and ED’s Open Innovation Portal both posts challenges and invite professionals to devise solutions. A recent NASA competition involved 1,317 Solvers from 65 countries, who submitted 128 proposals. Three of those received prizes.