FedStats.gov Remains Rich Source Of Government Data For Citizens
From: AOL Government
By Brand Niemann
Data.gov has been around for about three years now and is touted as the prime example of the Open Government Data Initiative based on its growth in number of data sets and communities using them. However, there have been two activities that have been around much longer, with more high-quality data sets, and a larger community, namely FedStats.gov and FedStats.net, which deserve continued attention in the government data community.
I was part of the FedStats Team that built FedStats.gov and led the FedStats.net Team. (You can read more about that team in a related story.) We received the Gore Hammer Award for that work to “Reinvent Government.” While Data.gov has helped focus attention on available government data, I see trying to reinvent that reinvention without the expertise that we had across the government at that time. The Data.gov Agency Points of Contact are not the same as the Federal Statistics Community.
I always felt the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Statistical Programs & Standards (Katherine Wallman, Chief Statistician of the US Government) should have a major role in the Open Government Data Initiative. When asked if GSA was the right agency to do Data.gov, I recommended the Census Bureau – the government data agnecy that produces the data book – the Annual Statistical Abstract. The FedStats Agency Information is the data catalog for the US Government of high quality data sets with contact information for the subject matter experts and the metadata behind the data! I had forgotten how good a data catalog we had built back in 2007. Interestingly, the category with the largest number of data sets is health which rivals the new HealthData.gov. For those interested in exploring the data available at FedStats.gov, I created a data-driven document dashboard like FedStats.net which is based on the 2012 Annual Statistical Abstract document. I provide well-defined Web addresses to the 95 US Statistical Programs along with their contact information and 346 individual data sets.
Here’s an example of a slice of those data sets: 10.1. Administration For Children And Families 10.1.1. Adoption 10.1.2. Child Abuse 10.1.3. Child Care 10.1.4. Child Support Enforcement 10.1.5. Foster Care 10.1.6. Head Start Program I also picked a more local data set: HUD State Of The Cities Data Systems and one data set specifically to show how the FedStats Statistical Programs Catalog can be used to drill down from national to agency local high quality data. This is similar to what was done in analyzing content of the 2012 International Open Government Data Conference which I commented on further in a recent story. As was noted in a remark attributed to me in another story on government data, Officials Explore New Ways To Tap Value Of Global Government Data, many of the government’s data sets are not as accessible or as easy to use as the government agencies would like people to think.
FedStats.gov is a noteworthy example of having done a better job of that in many ways, and over many more years.