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Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Data.gov Goes Live!

Data.gov is now live and ready for you to explore!

The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

You have a say in the future of Data.gov by suggesting datasets to include and suggest improvements/enhancements to the website.

Data.gov has a searchable data catalog that gives access to data through the “raw” data catalog and by using tools. “The Raw Data Catalog provides an instant download of machine readable, platform-independent datasets while the Tools Catalog provides hyperlinks to tools that allow you to mine datasets.”

Please note that by accessing datasets or tools offered on Data.gov, you agree to the Data Policy, which you should read before accessing any dataset or tool.

Here is an excerpt from the policy that we need to read closely:

Secondary Use
Data accessed through Data.gov do not, and should not, include controls over its end use. However, as the data owner or authoritative source for the data, the submitting Department or Agency must retain version control of datasets accessed. Once the data have been downloaded from the agency’s site, the government cannot vouch for their quality and timeliness. Furthermore, the US Government cannot vouch for any analyses conducted with data retrieved from Data.gov.

Citing Data
The agency’s preferred citation for each dataset is included in its metadata. Users should also cite the date that data were accessed or retrieved from Data.gov. Finally, users must clearly state that “Data.gov and the Federal Government cannot vouch for the data or analyses derived from these data after the data have been retrieved from Data.gov.”

What do you think? Is the policy fair? Any suggestions for improvement we could make to Data.gov?

For more information, visit their FAQ and Tutorial.

Also, check out Sunlight Lab’s “Apps for America 2: The Data.gov Challenge“!

Just as the federal government begins to provide data in Web developer-friendly formats, we’re organizing Apps for America 2: The Data.gov Challenge to demonstrate that when government makes data available it makes itself more accountable and creates more trust and opportunity in its actions. The contest submissions will also show the creativity of developers in designing compelling applications that provide easy access and understanding for the public while also showing how open data can save the government tens of millions of dollars by engaging the development community in application development at far cheaper rates that traditional government contractors.

Now, let’s go play around with this new site and make suggestions, shall we?

Transparency 2.0

There is a lot of talk about transparency in government, and it seems that the Obama team is investing a lot of honest effort in making government more transparent. But the obstacles are big. This article gives a good overview of the scale of the problem, concentrating particularly on HUD and recovery.gov.

Open Government Conference

“The Open Government & Innovations Conference (OGI) is an interactive event for discussion on technology’s role in President Obama’s call for social media as a conduit for transparency and public collaboration in the government.”

This conference will be held on July 21-22 in Washington D.C. You can see and vote on the proposed session at My.OGI.

Start the discussions that will continue throughout the OGI Conference and beyond through the interactive features at My.OGI. Suggest topics and speakers, submit session proposals, case studies and panel discussions.

Federal Open Government Guide

The 10th edition of the “Federal Open Government Guide” has been published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP). The guide helps citizens to better understand and use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This new edition covers laws such as the Government in the Sunshine Act (GSA), the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), and the Privacy Act.

You can buy a copy from the RCFP for $10 or you can use the free online version. It includes an automated FOIA letter generator that creates requests and appeals.

Tip o’ the hat to the OMB Watch Blog for the heads up.

Recovery.gov Relaunched

Recovery.gov is back up. This time, it has many more features. It is a website that, according to the website:

Lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going. There are going to be a few different ways to search for information. The money is being distributed by Federal agencies, and soon you’ll be able to see where it’s going — to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which Federal contractors. As soon as we are able to, we’ll display that information visually in maps, charts, and graphics.

You can read a full copy of the bill, share your recovery story, and learn more about the President’s accountability & transparency objectives. And check out the “Where is Your Money Going“? page for a simple visual representation.

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