Lessons to learn from usaspending.gov

The Government Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, came out with a report, discussed on Informationweek, which finds several faults with the USASpending.gov web site. The GAO nails the site in terms of both data quality and quantity.

While the report is dead on in terms of those issues, lets take a minute and focus on the real value being provided by collaborative and social technologies. First, that this data, incomplete and imperfect as it is, is publicly available demonstrates a focused effort by the government to become more transparent. If you have never reviewed this site, take a minute and check out the dashboard.

What lessons can your business/agency take away from this?

* Once you have your goals and strategies laid out, and once you are executing, never forget that accurate data is critical. Whether your goal is to leverage your CRM system for sales or you are using a web site to show where billions of dollars are being spent, data rules. Your ability to make good decisions is dependent on this simple fact.
* Do not expect a parade when you decide to become more transparent. People expect it, enough said.
* Your successes and failures will be visible to everyone. This is an opportunity to grow, not to play politics. Set clear goals for your organization and, once you have a baseline established, for expected improvements. Be clear and transparent with these goals. If people understand that you are serious about transparency as a way of driving performance improvement they will support you.
* I cannot say this enough…. Market your efforts and your results, both positive and negative. Remind people you are serious about these efforts and keep the result front and center. While people will rarely care about the real level of transparency they will always care about the results. In the words of Cuba Gooding, Jr…. “Show me the money!”.


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