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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Recommendations and working examples for the Obama administration

Erik Wilde, Eric C. Kansa, and Raymond Yee, Proposed Guideline Clarifications for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, University of California School of Information, working paper, March 16, 2009.

Abstract:   The Initial Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [from the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB)] provides guidance for a feed-based information dissemination architecture. In this report, we suggest some improvements and refinements of the initial guidelines, in the hope of paving the path for a more transparent and useful feed-based architecture. This report is meant as a preliminary guide to how the current guidelines could be made more specific and provide better guidance for providers and consumers of Recovery Act spending information. It is by no means intended as a complete or final set of recommendations.

From the body of the report:

...The goal of [the OMB's feed-based] architecture is to make sure that spending can be openly and transparently tracked at the agencies receiving funds from the Recovery Act, and to make sure that data can be aggregated and re-published on the portal being set up at [].

The feed-based publishing of data proposed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) represents an exciting first step in making government transparency on the Web a reality....However, as yet, the OMB guidelines for feed implementation (in terms of how to publish feeds and what to publish in them) remain underspecified and require some modification and expansion to be more effective. This document serves as a guide towards making feeds work better for their stated transparency and accountability goals....

Along with this report, [we have made available] a sample set of simulated datasets and sample files....The data that has been used for the sample data is mostly fictional and partly based on the information already available through the first recovery Web sites. All sample data can be found in feeds.xml, which conforms to feeds.xsd. Using feeds.xslt, the sample dataset has been converted into a set of "Web sites" and feeds, and the main purpose of this was to get some data to build on as a prototyping and experimentation platform....

For more perspective, see the blog posts by the report co-authors Erik Wilde and Eric Kansa.