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Open Data, Transparency Sites That Helped Gov't Save Billions To Be Shut Down Over $30 Million?

from the lovely dept

While we've faulted the Obama administration for its many, many failings on the promised transparency front, the one area where they actually had done some good was with their work on the IT side, where the CTO and CIO had created some pretty cool websites sharing important data with the public, and pushing federal agencies to be a lot more transparent about their federal IT spending. Just last week, they announced plans to open source the famed ITDashboard.gov software, noting that it "was a major component of the process the Federal Government employed to save over $3 billion in just its first two years of deployment."

And now they're shutting it down.

There were some rumors last week, but reports are now saying that it's confirmed that the government will be shutting down a variety of its "open" data sites, including ITDashboard, data.gov and others, because the House has only allocated $2 million for electronic government activities, rather than the $35 million the White House requested:
"We need at least another $4 million just to keep USASpending.gov operating this year," the official said. "We are looking at a pass-the-hat approach, but it could be challenging to get that done in time."

The White House requested $35 million for the e-government fund in 2011. The House allocated only $2 million in its bill, H.R. 1. The Senate, meanwhile, would provide $20 million for the e-government fund.

"The continuing resolution says we can only spend what we would reasonably expect to get during the fiscal year, and we have no reasonable expectation to get more than a couple of millions of dollars," the source said.
There are some efforts underway to try to save the sites, and people are pointing out how incredibly backwards this proposal is. In an effort to save a few million upfront, it will inevitably cost jobs and a lot more money on the back end through less efficiency in government.

I'm all for cutting unnecessary government spending, and I'm not necessarily convinced that these projects need $35 million per year (though, given how much terrible paywalls cost, perhaps this is a bargain), but this just doesn't make much sense at all. It's one area where the government has really been doing some good, increasing both efficiency and transparency... and the response is to cut off their funding?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Never underestimate stupid, Mike. You should know this by now, surely?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Chris ODonnell (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    It has nothing to do with money. This is a way for the House to shut down the program and reduce visibility into what they are doing, while blaming it on the budget. The last thing Congress wants is for the American people to have clarity into what they are doing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    drew (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Tax

    Didn't they do something similar with a tax-reclamation project a few years ago as well? Pay-back in about 3 months and they scrapped it the following year?
    Never underestimate short-termism as a killer of progress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    Yep this is just another Republican cover up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

    Do something about it.

    Tell Congress not to follow through on this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea: http://sunlightfoundation.com/savethedata/

    They just might listen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Daryl, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    An idea...

    I suggest the US Government make a Facebook page called "White House" and a twitter account called @WhiteHouse to post all their spendings, budget cuts, exc.

    Then they should take the $35 million and spend it on something reasonable, like making a tiny dent in the national debt perhaps?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    MAC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Transparency

    Are you surprised?

    Politicians are like thieves and they never like for a light to be shone on their handywork which is usually picking the taxpayers pockets.

    This is attractive to them because they can say "but we saved 34 million!" which is chicken feed compared to the billions in wasteful spending that these sites uncovered.

    Remember, when they are not kissing the baby then they are hard at work trying to take their candy...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    MAC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Don't forget the democrates. Their members in the house will vote to kill them too and for the same reasons...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    MAC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    Re: An idea...

    35 million? Compared to what, several trillion?

    That would not even be close to you saving a penny out of your paycheck...

    The scale is vastly different.

    What we as constituents need to do is go over their spending and I recommend that you don't vote for ANY incumbents. Keep throwing the bums out until they get the message.

    Jail time for lobbying may also help...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    MAC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Re:

    You got it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I haven't had any demo crates as of lately. Have you been playing TF2 again?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:17pm

    While we're on the subject...

    How the F**K is cutting government spending good for creating jobs? Could someone please explain how these cuts are necessary now and can't wait until unemployment gets under, say, 8%?
    It seems like the government is cutting when it should be spending. But what do I know, I'm a coder, not an economist. Anyone know an economist? ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Re: While we're on the subject...

    They're cutting, but they are cutting the wrong things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: An idea...

    Yeah, not voting for incumbents worked SOOOO well last time. Now the freaky Tea Party thinks that they were given a mandate from the people to go through with their weird ideas, rather than realizing that it was a call to get America back to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    FarSide (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re: While we're on the subject...

    1st, you are making the assumption that gov't spending = more jobs. While this can be true to some extent, the number of jobs created per dollar spent isn't very high - a lot of the money goes into the pockets of people in the govt who already have jobs.

    2nd, just creating a job out of nowhere doesn't make things better. If they hire 2 people to do the work of 1 person, just think of the jobs they could create! But creating jobs that aren't needed are a net drain on the overall economy. To pay the workers, now they are either taxing others more or covering the debt with inflation.

    Usually the unspoken or assumed second-half of the statement 'the govt needs to cut spending...' is '...so they can stop raising taxes' or '...so they can stop inflating and pay their debts'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Do something about it.

    wanna bet? ill give ya 100 - 1 they wont listen, and haven't in a long time unless its lobbyist money...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    Yup Tea Partys fault for actually wanting a reduced budget, better to have jobs programs the bankrupt us (oh wait we are already trying that and FAILING)...

    How about calling it what it is... Government out of control on everything and forcing companies out of the country (20 of the top companies in the US are either moving HQ outside to escape the highest corp. tax in the world, and the rest are looking to move in the next year... included, Google, GM, GE)...which will gut the economy and jobs screwing all of us...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Let's not make this a partisan thing. Both sides of that particular coin cover crap up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 2:07pm

    Re: While we're on the subject...

    Government Spending does not create jobs in the same way private company spending does. Government does not look at the cost vs profit vs efficiency, a private company has to do these things to stay in business. Also the Government only has 2 ways to pay for the "job" created, tax more which represses an economy, people don't not buy if they are afraid of the next round of tax hikes and/or layoffs. The other is to inflate the money (increase the supply of money) which means the 1.00 you spent on bread, now becomes higher (1.50), which does not sound too bad, till you put it with everything else (gas, electricity, cars, houses, clothes, basic essentials).

    Now by reducing taxes, it will create more free money in the hands of private individuals and companies, that can help increase the economy and drive new jobs, but if those same people are scared (because the government has flipped and flopped like we are doing now, or doesn't have a strong policy going forward) the money goes into banks, mattresses, and other investments, because why spend the dollar you saved from the government if they are going to come back and take 2, and you cant pay the rent or get food... its a tricky slope...

    The main facts are, we are jacking up corporate taxes - that sounds good it does not come from your pocket (that's good) but the backside is those corporations are going to pass the tax on to the consumer through higher prices, and that hurts but is less visible, or they move out of the country (taking jobs) into a friendlier climate, they sell to you at the lower price, but your dollar now leaves the country to support someone else, and the taxes are still not paid... so they now have to tax you.

    If you want to see it happen watch Illinois over the next couple of months, companies and people are leaving and soon they will come to the conclusion their money problems have not gone away, but gotten worse (still high spending but smaller revenue base) and then where do they go?

    Just my 2-cents from the private sector that is actively looking to move...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    How about calling it what it is... Government out of control on everything and forcing companies out of the country (20 of the top companies in the US are either moving HQ outside to escape the highest corp. tax in the world, and the rest are looking to move in the next year... included, Google, GM, GE)...which will gut the economy and jobs screwing all of us...

    How about I call "bullshit" on this idea that the US government is driving away large corporations with a high tax rate? You want to know why? See the below link (if you've already used up all your "free" NYT page views, or don't want to "waste" one on this link, I'm sure there must be another way around the paywall; if only I knew of a website that had that information...), and maybe pull your head out of your bum.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    ChronoFish (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Been there... Done that....

    I was the primary developer for the Rhode Island Open Meetings project for the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

    The project required all of the governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to post their meeting notices within 24 hours of the meeting being held and voluntary posting of minutes after the fact. Basically if they did not post the notice with our system, then by law, the meeting didn't happen. It was a proud moment when the first constituent complaints started to trickle in, forcing local government boards to start doing a lot of explaining... and having to re-hold meetings until they started following the law.

    What was most disturbing, and most predictable, was that the general assembly, probably the one governmental body that generates the most interest..... conveniently wrote themselves out of the law.

    Ballsy and unscrupulous. Without resorting to extreme profanity, I have no idea how else to describe politicians.


    -CF

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 3:25pm

    What am I missing

    Just last week, they announced plans to open source the famed ITDashboard.gov software, noting that it "was a major component of the process the Federal Government employed to save over $3 billion in just its first two years of deployment."

    ... I'm not necessarily convinced that these projects need $35 million per year

    Hell, double that figure. If the improvement is only fractional it'll still pay for itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Life would at least be interesting if politics more represented TF2.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    How about NO? The Tea Party is being funded by three of the four richest people in America. IF the Government was entirely out of control, would it not be a boon to exercise your Second Amendment rights to overthrow the entirety of Congress?

    It's not at that stage yet. Yes, the monumental amounts of stupid going round the halls of power, but there's only moderate malice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Re: What am I missing

    Paying $75m for open source software seems like a loss-leader of comical proportions, and something Tea Partiers/Teabaggers would jump on so fast it isn't funny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 4:21pm

    Lets just put Congress on Medicare instead of their "Cadillac" plans, and cap their salary at 2x what the average person they represent makes.

    We should save more than enough to save this program and maybe bring all of them down to the idea that the people they most often screw are those they are supposed to work for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    Are you defending those idiots?

    Cutting spending you say?

    60% of all expenses are because of Medicaid will they cut that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    Cost

    Here's the thing, I thought it was great that they made these sites and all (though I really, really doubt it saved $3 billion).

    But I remember them quoting $15 mil when they first debuted a stimulus webpage. $15 mil? Nevermind that, sorta like mayors putting their names on park statues this is really gov paid for propaganda/ early campaigning, websites are cheap to run, people. I doubt microsofts website cost $30 mil with all it's various portals, and everything they touch is a bloated piece of crap too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    Nope the problem is concentration of wealth, 1% of the population holds 90% of all the money and pay less half the taxes of the 90% at the bottom.

    The real question is how do we reduce that gap and make everyone pay a fare share, because the 1% won't pay their taxes for all the money they have, they rather go to other countries that is a problem, if you give more power to them they will leave the country anyways and that is not a question of if but just when.

    Most rich people don't even state they live in the U.S. but probably in Luxembourg.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    "Yup Tea Partys fault for actually wanting a reduced budget,"

    And yet they continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    "Now by reducing taxes, it will create more free money in the hands of private individuals and companies, that can help increase the economy and drive new jobs"

    Trickle down theory - hasn't worked for several decades, but dont let that stop anything

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    Wait a minute...

    A Democratic appointee refuses to spend money in an
    administration where the Democrats control the Presidency
    and the Senate, and somehow this is the Republicans fault?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Gordon (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    "The real question is how do we reduce that gap and make everyone pay a fare share....."

    The answer to that question is to simply set a fixed income tax of say 14% for EVERYONE, no exceptions. If you make $1M a year you pay $140K. If you make $100 a year you pay 14 bucks. Everyone is equal on the income tax front. No loopholes for the wealthy, no deductions......nothing getting in the way. Hell the IRS could go on a long vacation.

    My 2 cents.....and Bloomberg's as well if I'm correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Chief Elf, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 6:18pm

    Idiots vs. Liars

    They say they have to have tens of millions of dollars or they have to shut down the servers? It would take a few thousand dollars to keep the servers running for years, as is. Anyone who suggests otherwise is an idiot or a liar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    darryl, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 6:56pm

    $3 Billion over 2 years - chump change

    they announced plans to open source the famed ITDashboard.gov software, noting that it "was a major component of the process the Federal Government employed to save over $3 billion in just its first two years of deployment."


    WOW OMFG, a WHOLE $3 Bil JUST in its first two years.

    That would not even add up to Obama's lunch money for that time,

    It's costing you (the US, with money borrowed from CHINA) over $10 BILLION PER MONTH to fight your "war on terror".

    I would think that $10 bil a month, could easily be spent on many other things for the US, like your housing crisis, your energy crisis, your manufacturing industry, or you could even pay back some of the massive loans your Gov is taking out EACH DAY to pay for this.

    Just because you Americans cant make ends meet, USA is racing towards the next 3rd world country.

    Your economy is so crippled now that the Australian dollar exceeds the value of the US dollar.

    With 10 Billion a month it would probably only take a year or 2 for you to develop continuous fussion power, clean and virtually infinite energy, and you would NEVER have to rely on oil, coal, natural gas for fuel.

    But no, you get more votes by killing afganies than saving the planet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re: What am I missing

    What does open source have to do with anything? If you're spending millions to save billions, it's worth it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    VMax, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

    Re: While we're on the subject...

    It is not the government's job to create jobs. They need to create an environment for companies to expand and need workers. Big companies have the money to lobby for tax deferments and other perks, but will send all of the jobs to the places on the world that have the lowest wages. Small companies can't afford to lobby, but create local jobs. I have no solution, but this is the the problem as I see it. Does anyone have an idea how to solve it? Except for electing good people(you know that's not going to happen).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    [citation needed]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 9:06pm

    Re:

    Now THERE is an idea I can stand behind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 9:09pm

    Re: $3 Billion over 2 years - chump change

    Yes, your dollar is worth a whopping 3 pennies more than mine.

    If you think our government is so terrible and evil, why not come over here and help us fight it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Karl (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 4:37am

    This vs. the IP Czar

    How about we just get rid of IPEC (the "IP Czar"), and give that funding to the CTO and CIO?

    That would make the government more transparent, save money in the long run, and get rid of a useless government position that, so far, has only harmed the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: An idea...

    You forgot the 'Umbra' military budget, which isn't accounted for in wartimes, sooo....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 5:27am

    Re: Wait a minute...

    The Republican Speaker, John Boehner, went on record as saying he would stop everything the Democrats proposed for two years. Their obsession with NOT RAISING TAX may have something to do with these cuts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Re: This vs. the IP Czar

    OR, we could just turn to anarchy, which at the moment would be more sensible than your current system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    No, I'm not making the assumption that govt spending = more jobs. I'm saying govt spending = job cuts, and loss of govt contracts.

    The rest of your argument is just as bad. The reason that they can't pay their debts is because they lost their tax base-because the economy tanked-because the private sector played games with loans. Plus, during the only time we had a situation like this, creating expendable low-wage jobs is EXACTLY what the govt did, and it worked.

    It's just like I said. There is NO REASON to cut spending now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    No, I'm not making the assumption that govt spending = more jobs. I'm saying govt spending = job cuts, and loss of govt contracts.

    The rest of your argument is just as bad. The reason that they can't pay their debts is because they lost their tax base-because the economy tanked-because the private sector played games with loans. Plus, during the only time we had a situation like this, creating expendable low-wage jobs is EXACTLY what the govt did, and it worked.

    It's just like I said. There is NO REASON to cut spending now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    No, I'm not making the assumption that govt spending = more jobs. I'm saying govt spending = job cuts, and loss of govt contracts.

    The rest of your argument is just as bad. The reason that they can't pay their debts is because they lost their tax base-because the economy tanked-because the private sector played games with loans. Plus, during the only time we had a situation like this, creating expendable low-wage jobs is EXACTLY what the govt did, and it worked.

    It's just like I said. There is NO REASON to cut spending now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    Fare share = socialism => communism = FAIL... works on paper, not in life

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: While we're on the subject...

    worked from 1776 - 1960/1970 but hey ignore the facts and you can get there...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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