Last week, there were rumblings over the end of the Statistical Abstract, and I suggested that it was just a sign of changing technologies. I thought that Data.gov and similar sites were the natural progression. Here’s the problem with that argument. Congress is planning on shutting down Data.gov and other transparency sites in the next few months.
So not only was I wrong, but now we’re taking steps backward. The budget for these technologies will be cut from $37m to $2m. According to Federal News Radio, USASpending.gov and Apps.gov/now will remain online until July 30 and then go black soon after.
For some reason it costs $4m just to keep USASpending operating for a year. Really?
As for Data.gov, it has always felt rough around the edges since launch and never got off the ground. There’s a lot of data there, but it’s old. Still, it is a sign of progress, and there is so much potential there that it’s a shame to see the efforts that have already been put in go to waste. Plus, when you compare the cuts to the billions of dollars spent elsewhere, it’s sad how little value these sites have.
Or maybe what’s sadder is that $37m wasn’t enough to build something worth keeping. I wonder how Data.gov.uk is doing. Hopefully better.
Do you want to see these sites keep going? Sunlight Foundation has an open letter to Congress seeking signatures.
However, here’s the million dollar question: is Data.gov worth saving?