Open Gov Dashboard

With the addition of the Open Gov Dashboard @, it got me thinking. This dashboard is great to tell us where the agencies are in terms of meeting the OGD criteria. What I would like to know (maybe I just haven’t found it), is…what are examples of agencies far exceeding expectations? I would like to see acknowledgments/recommendations of our ideal /open pages. What should agencies strive to emulate? What are your thoughts? What are your personal favorite /open pages.

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John Kamensky

I visited each of the 29 “open gov” pages on the White House site and there is quite a bit of variation. My focus was on how they introduced the Open Gov Dialogue with IdeaScale. There are some promising practices. For example, agencies that bury any mention of the Dialogue on their Open Gov page tend to not get traffic, and those that prominently feature the Dialogue, along with some context for why the Dialogue is underway, tend to get more traffic that has useful insights.

For more details, see:

Matt Zuby

When you say “bury and mention of dialogue”. You mean the specifically promoting the sharing of ideas on the actual open page? I haven’t made my way through all the open pages, but I would be very interested to hear of agencies that are pushing the Open page from their landing page. For example, has a article pushing visitors to the open government directive and I don’t know if this is happening throughout the 29. The reason I ask is…there are many individuals that are up on the current movement, they are actively looking to engage and participate. But what about those who may not be completely aware of this initiative? The extra step needed to generate awareness may lead to more fruitful results.

Your thoughts?

Scott Burns

I think promotion is important and there are a lot of great tools to help with it, but agencies need to use their valuable home page real estate to, first and foremost, serve the critical needs of citizens.

When my mom shows up on the Social Security Website, she cares about her benefits, not SSA’s OGD strategy. There is a relatively small group of people (majority in the beltway) who want and need to watch what’s going on with Open Government and the public is entitled to see what agencies are doing. However, more OGD on the homepage, means less flu prevention and public health outreach. It’s a tricky balance and the experts within the agencies should be empowered to make the call that balances the agency’s mission with the pressing and important nature of Open Government and the OGD.

Rick Otis

Unless I’m misinterpreting the dashboard, it appears virtually every agency is green right at the start. Seems as if the bar must have been set rather low. The previous President’s Management Agenda scored agencies on standards that yielded a wide range of reds to greens providing what seemed like more useful (altho aggregated) information about agency progress.

Matt Zuby

Rick…that is what led me to the question about which agency/department is really going above and beyond. If we just look at the dashboard, we would see that about 25 are doing everythign they can. There should be a example of what others should strive to be.

Scott Burns

I think the dashboard is just binary…. do they have an page or not. So, it’s rating whether they’ve launched a page not how good it is. Good idea to think of some rating system to deploy over time that will rank the effort against some objective standards, but that’s not what Sunlight is trying to do at this time from what I can tell.

Matt Zuby

i think Rick is speaking of the dashboard…at least that is what I was responding to. My Sunlight reference was just a quick way to get to all the department homepages to see if they were promoting OpenGov.

Scott Burns

Sorry. That makes sense. Even there, it does look like they started with “up and running or not” for each of the criteria. I guess it would be interesting to know how they judge whether the “data” offered is “high-value” or not. I assume the agency just self determines. It is hard to compare one agency to another objectively. The level of engagement (e.g., # of comments or ideas) and other key metrics will vary dramatically depending on the agencies mission and the public’s level of interest in it.

Matt Zuby

along those lines, i dont quite understand the inclusion of data integrity (assigned to high level senior official). I think of data integrity as being fully disclosed/accurate (the actual analysis of the data) versus high level approval. Can anyone explain the meaning of this to me?

Bernie Lubran

I heard a comment from Aneesh Chopra on a radio intervew that this Dashboard was just an initial effort, like Scott said a binary exercise. It’s good to see that Agencies have complied with the first requirement to post their datasets. The hard part is to come as people and organizations such as Sunlight Foundation begin to examine these datasets for their utility i.e., how current is the data, how useful is it, how easy is it to find it, etc.

At least it’s a big step in the right direction towards transparency and measurement.

Kitty Wooley

Scott, I think you’re absolutely right about agencies’ using their valuable home page real estate to, first and foremost, serve the critical needs of citizens. The “Mom” test is the one we had better all be using.

Another test is to ask whether there are data sets whose easy availability could help other agencies, federal/state/local, help citizens. The second one requires a bit more imagination.

A really key fact about all of this is, just as in the private sector, most organizations don’t have that many people who understand all the business lines (programs), let alone know about all the data they generate or the interesting, value-laden connections between them. So, one of the challenges will be for agency decision makers to develop a nuanced understanding of which data assets might be most useful. That way, agencies can post not only the no-brainers (using FOIA and other requests as clues), but also some data sets that people haven’t yet realized they would like to have.

Matt Zuby

I think an important next step would also be the opportunity to share citizen ideas among agencies. The current format is structured as individual silos. The ideas generated could be great, but adding the collaboration among the separate entities may further idea generation to the next level.