Citizen Feedback Matters: Treasury Launches Open Beta Site

August 1, 2016 1:32 pm PST | Effective Governing

One way to get a sense of a nation’s priorities is to zoom in on precisely where and how it spends money. The U.S. Government showcases this information on its USASpending.gov site. But it’s not enough to simply publish the federal government’s contracts and grant awards — the DATA Act mandates that more  financial detail be readily accessible and understandable too.

In order to ensure that the revamped site achieves these goals, the Treasury is soliciting feedback from users, with Openbeta.USAspending.gov. Socrata is supporting Treasury on the development of the site that allows users to vote and comment on concepts and designs for the new USASpending.gov site, bringing the public into a transparent and iterative approach to program development.

In November 2015, Treasury  launched the site with basic functionality to solicit feedback for the future USASpending.gov with some success. The newly redesigned “Open Beta.USAspending.gov” site is streamlined and enables the Treasury to engage with a wide range of users in a refreshed and interactive interface. After launching new potential features, the Treasury can solicit targeted feedback, as well as having open-ended areas for people to submit questions, opinions, and requests.

A Sneak Peek at the DATA Act Summit

During May’s DATA Act Summit, Kaitlin Devine, Product Owner from Treasury, demonstrated the latest version of Openbeta.USAspending.gov and discussed the Treasury’s design process. Before landing on a beta site to test out features, the Treasury tried several other methods to obtain user feedback: open-ended questions on Github led to fruitful responses, and in-person conversations with stakeholders led to new ideas and energetic brainstorming. But both methods had limitations — Github feedback was solely from developers and in-person meetings are constrained by geography. The Treasury was interested in hearing from more voices — from beyond the beltway, and from all of the many people who might potentially visit the site, including citizens, budget directors, developers, and more.

Check out the video of Kaitlin Devine’s presentation.

Uncle Sam Wants YOU to Share Your Opinion

Treasury is seeking public input on the “Open Beta.USAspending.gov” site now. Comment on the current ideas (under the “Concepts” Header) for what you would like to see as part of Treasury’s mission to transparency. The site will be regularly updated with additional ideas and concepts, so visit often and share with your friends!


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