Data.gov et al. Budget Slashed by 75%
Federal government transparency programs, including data resource directory Data.gov, face across-the-board budget cuts by 75% in the latest version of the federal budget to emerge from Congressional negotiations. According to the Sunlight Foundation, an independent transparency watchdog organization, the “electronic government fund” faces cuts from a $34 million budget down to $8 million.
We reported earlier this month that a Congressional proposal would cut the budget for programs including Data.gov, USASpending.gov, the federal cloud computing initiative and more. Those programs faced cuts down to $2 million, a virtual death sentence.
“By comparison,” writes Sunlight’s Daniel Schuman, “other programs in the ‘financial services and government sector,’ which includes the e-gov fund, were cut by a (comparatively slight) 10% from their FY2010 levels.”
Schuman says that budget negotiations continue but whatever gets allocated will then be used at the discretion of federal CIO Vivek Kundra.
“He will have to make the tough decisions about where to cut,” Schuman writes. “We now know much much is on the chopping block.”
For transparency to have its (small) budget cut during difficult times raises the question of whether those who fund and are monitored with the help of those transparency programs intend to deal with the larger budget and issues the nation faces in good faith. That’s entirely aside from the way a government that defunds open-data platforms for distributed, citizen-led creation of new software and services built on new sources of data appears to be turning its back on the future.