September 16, 2010
Intellectual Property, Internet & E-Commerce Alerts

Better Government Spending Through Technology
by Cyrus Wadia

An online federal IT portfolio management tool known as the Federal IT Dashboard is going open source with its programming code, paving the way for federal, state and local agencies to collaborate in finding better ways to manage their IT investments.
 
Launched in 2009 as part an "open government initiative" by the Obama administration, the IT Dashboard contains hard data on costs, schedules and plans of nearly 800 major IT investments by 27 federal agencies.  It allows agency Chief Information Officers to monitor progress on those investments as well as to update the website with additional information.  According to the IT Dashboard website, the "purpose of the Dashboard is to provide information on the effectiveness of government IT programs and to support decisions regarding the investment and management of resources," and is being used by the Administration and Congress to make budget and policy decisions.  The IT Dashboard is also an interactive tool available for public information, allowing any user to create a customized data feed of budget estimates, capital asset plans, investment ratings and other data sources on the various agencies. 
 
According to the Civic Commons which developed the IT Dashboard, "[o]nce it’s open sourced, an entire community of users has a chance expand that functionality to include automated data intake from the major project management tools in use across many jurisdictions — a win for everyone, including the Federal government and ultimately the public."
 
A similar open source program was launched in the City & County San Francisco last year, DataSF.org, which provides a clearinghouse of raw government datasets to the public.  The goal of DataSF was fourfold – (1) improving public access to data; (2) assisting the community in creating innovative applications with that data; (3) understanding what databases the public was interested in; and (4) obtaining quality of the datasets.  So far, several applications have been developed, including Crimespotting (an interactive map of crimes in San Francisco), Routesy San Francisco (guide to SF transit), Restaurant Inspector (health inspection scores of restaurants around San Francisco), and Accessible Parking SF (identifying accessible parking spots within any given radius in San Francisco).

The trend towards open sourcing continues…

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