Default Open Data: White House Launches New Digital Government Strategy

On Tuesday the Obama administration laid out their ambitious Digital Government Strategy. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and Federal CTO Todd Park unveiled the strategy at the TechCrunch Disrupt NYC that took place in New York.

“It’s a roadmap to transform government to be an enablement platform. Open data will be the new default. On top of that the data should be public when possible. And finally, the data should be available anywhere, anytime on any device,” Park said.

The strategy would make data available in a machine readable format by default among 28 other goals for agencies.

What’s in the Digital Government Strategy:

  1. Open Data is the new default: Data should be public when possible and available anywhere, anytime on any device
  2. Make Government Data Social: Drive interactions on a two way street
  3. Agencies will develop a slash developer page: transform data.gov to be the one place you go to to get data
  4. No more government domains: right now there are 18,000 dot.gov domains, 30,000/40,000 websites in the federal government
  5. Agencies must convert two priority citizen services to mobile in the next 12 months
  6. Take two backend systems and convert them to API’s
  7. Create the Digital Innovation Center: central effort to change web dynamic
  8. Private sector integration

Presidential Fellows Program: Recruit Entrepreneurs to Focus on Five Projects

  1. MyGov — Re-imagine the relationship between the federal government and its citizens through an online footprint developed not just for the people, but also by the people.
  2. Open Data Initiatives — Stimulate a rising tide of innovation that utilizes government data to create tools that help Americans better navigate their world, whether it’s finding the right health care provider, identifying the college that provides the best value for their money, saving money on electricity bills through smarter shopping or keeping their families safe by knowing which products have been recalled, and much more.
  3. Blue Button for America — Develop apps and create awareness of tools that help individuals get access to their personal health records — current medications and drug allergies, claims and treatment data, and lab reports – that can improve their health and healthcare.
  4. RFP-EZ — Build a platform that makes it easier for small high-growth businesses to navigate the federal government, and enables agencies to quickly source low-cost, high-impact information technology solutions.
  5. The 20% Campaign — Create a system that enables US government programs to seamlessly move from making cash payments to support foreign policy, development assistance, government operations or commercial activities to using electronic payments such as mobile devices, smart cards and other methods.

The Fellows program kicks off in July.

Q and A’s with TechCrunch’s Greg Ferenstein, VanRoekel and Park

  • G.F.: Timeline? T.P 6-12 months
  • G.F. Why hasn’t this happened already? T.P. It hasn’t happened because people don’t know about all the data the government posses
  • G.F. Former federal CIO Vivek Kundra called government technology vendors an IT cartel, how do you get around this? S.V. The more open data there is the more industry and government can get involved, this will reduce the monopoly.
  • G.F. What problems do you see in the House’s Data Act? V.R. The bill puts a lot of requirements on agencies. Possibly too many.
  • G.F. How geeky is the President? T.P. In the best possible way his geek quotient is really high.
  • G.F. What is the technology culture like in government? V.R. There is a lot of risk aversion because the program often come with such a hefty price tag. We are trying to change that with smaller programs.


Many of the most talented, natural born innovators work for the federal government. If you unleash their mojo in small agile teams, they can do amazing things. When I was in the private sector I noticed their was one characteristic that differentiated the best entrepreneurs from the average ones, it was that they weren’t in it for the stock options. They were in it because they couldn’t stand the idea of a world not having what they were building. It was this profound mission orientation to deliver something that was helpful. That is what drove them through all the moments of darkness, where the dude in it for just the stock options would just give up. Turns out that innovators who are in there for the government are not in their for the stock options. They are there because they want to kick ass on behalf of the American people,” said Park.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply


I dig the Digital Info Center and want the Law Library to lead the Courts and Bar Assoc in this initiative. Why shouldn’t the public law library not only be the repository of information but also the leader/trainer and go-to place for digital info about the law & the courts? We need to sow these seeds and amp up the volume so people in gov and elsewhere pay attention.