A Pilot Program to Aggregate Agency Spending Data Launches

August 11, 2016 11:38 am PST | Data News Roundup

At a recent event hosted by the Center for Data Innovation, panelists from the US Agency for International Development spoke about how the agency could use the data it collects to inform decisions, as well as sharing some legal concerns around data usage. Then discover how an algorithm-based pilot program will validate and aggregate agencies’ spending data, how a reporter’s FOIA request led to a change in government guidelines on flossing, and how open data can help in the fight against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Get these headlines and more in this week’s Open Data Download:

Legal implications persist around open data for development

“‘…open data on its own does not create better development outcomes,’ Ranson [senior program manager of the Development Informatics Team in the Global Development Lab at USAID] said. ‘So… Should we be focusing on building the APIs, and opening up the data, making it available? Or should we be focusing on the capacity of governments to actually use that data to drive better service to citizens?’ Going forward, USAID is trying to learn, she said, ‘What does open data do for us?'” Read more from FedScoop.

DATA act broker system close to launch

“Agencies behind the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act requirements are piloting a broker program to better validate and aggregate agencies’ spending data, a new Government Accountability Office report details. The algorithm-based broker, created by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury, aims to check that data reported by agencies is standardized, as is required under with the DATA Act, and ensure they are accurate.” Read more from FedScoop.

How an AP reporter took down flossing

“By law, the [government’s Dietary] guidelines must be based on science, so I asked staffers at the responsible agencies — the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture — for the documentation behind the floss recommendation. Weeks of requests failed to turn up anything. So I filed a formal FOIA request. Six months passed. On Jan. 7, the government put out a new edition of the guidelines, as scheduled. The flossing recommendation had quietly been dropped….In the end, this appeared to be a rare instance where simply filing a FOIA changed government policy.” Read more from Poynter.

Data vs. mosquitoes

“Geospatial data and analysis can help us better design, monitor, manage and assess malaria prevention programs. Often, malaria spray teams are working with outdated or incomplete maps of communities. Without accurate information on the location of buildings, spray teams might duplicate efforts or miss some buildings entirely.” Read more from devex.

White House Drops Final Federal Source Code Policy

“The White House today released final policy that requires agencies to share software code with each other and with the public, according to a blog post from U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott. As part of a movement toward open source software, the White House is launching a pilot requiring agencies to share 20 percent of their custom-developed source code with the public and encouraging them to share more of it with each other to cut down on duplicative technology contracts.” Read more from NextGov.

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