Vivek Kundra, the US national CIO, unveiled the new IT spending dashboards at usaspending.gov at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. The dashboards are designed to help Vivek and the CIOs of individual government agencies get a handle on the effectiveness of government IT spending. The official description from the website goes as follows:
The IT Dashboard is a new website enabling federal agencies and the general public to view details of federal information technology investments.
The exciting part about this news message is the fact that the IT Dashboard is available to the general public. This means that government data is shown transparently to the people and tools to examine the data are also provided. According to Tim O’Reilly there was a big discussion about the workload of maintaining the data. Having this data public creates the urgency to keep it up-to-date, clean and making decisions based on what the data shows.
The visualization methods are rather crude. Pie Charts, Bar Charts and the indispensable Gauge show the basic data. Unfortunately the creators couldn’t resist the temptation to add some 3D to the graphics. A customizable Treemap visualization let’s the user drill down into more complex datasets. All the visualizations are created in Flash by using the Fusion Charts library.
All the datasets are also available as XML Feed or CSV. Furthermore, custom Data Feeds can be created and downloaded by chosing the source, selecting the required fields and adding filters for agencies. This seems to be another strong feature of the website and could provide interested users with exactly the data they are intersted in.
Read Tim O’Reilly’s View on the IT Dashboard.