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Don't let Congress kill digital transparency

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Renew Deal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:57 AM
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Don't let Congress kill digital transparency
Beginning in 2006 with, a cluster of sites emerged to show where your tax dollars are going and how effective they've been -- and to aggregate hundreds of thousands of datasets collected by the federal government to be freely consumed by business and public interest groups. But now that times are tough, just when these sites are needed most, Congress wants to pull the plug on them and go back to flying blind.

The IT Dashboard section of -- dubbed an exercise in "radical transparency" by Tim O'Reilly -- has already saved $3 billion in unnecessary spending according to Federal CIO Vivek Kundra. Sister site, which is also on the brink of extinction, was launched by Kundra two years ago to improve public access to high-value, machine-readable data sets generated by the government. It now hosts 379,939 of them.

In an open letter to Congress last week, the Sunlight Foundation offered this plea: "An open and accountable government is a prerequisite for democracy. Keeping these programs alive would cost a mere pittance when compared to the value of bringing the federal government into the sunlight ... please sustain funding for these vital transparency programs."

I couldn't agree more. How much money are we talking about? The budget for these and several related projects (including,, and more) would be cut from $34 million to $2 million.

Daniel Schuman, policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation, takes credit for reading the fine print in the proposed budget and uncovering the effort to defund these e-government initiatives.
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