A couple of years ago, the Obama Administration began making good on its promise to make the federal government more transparent about how tax dollars are allocated for IT and general government spending. Sites such as ITDashboard.gov offer general information on more than 7,000 federal IT investments and specific details on 800 "major" investments as classified by federal agencies.
But now, reports are circulating that the government is planning to shut down a number of "open" data sites, including ITDashboard.gov and USAspending.gov. According to reports from sites such as TechDirt, the House has set aside just $2 million for e-government funding this year while the White House requested $35 million for these initiatives.
According to an Office of Management and Budget official who spoke to Federal News Radio, the government would need at least $4 million to keep ITDashboard.gov operational this year. $4 million seems excessive, even by government standards. Meanwhile, there is a glimmer of hope for keeping these open data efforts alive. TechDirt reports that there are some efforts underway to try to save these sites.
Shutting down these sites would be a major blow to government transparency. Just two weeks ago, U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra posted a vlog in which he extols the benefits that ITDashboard.gov has helped to generate, pointing to how it has served as a "major component" in helping the government save approximately $3 billion over the past two years. He says the impetus for ITDashboard.gov occurred on Day One of the Obama Administration when it discovered that $27 billion worth of federal IT projects were "way over budget and way behind schedule."
Perhaps there is a more cost-effective way to provide taxpayers insights into how their tax dollars are being spent. But somehow, the House, Senate and White House have to figure out a way to continue to provide the shareholders of the U.S. visibility into how their tax dollars are being disbursed.