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So good to have a tech-savvy President!

You may recall my earlier post about when geeks talked with Senator Obama about how important it is to publish government data, he really got it when they talked about how data should be published as XML or Comma-Seperated-Values (CSV), and not as PDF or (eek!) bitmap scans of the docs. As a result, his “Google For Government” bill (which passed and was implemented in 2006ish) provided government spending data not just as a web site, but with an API so that people could make mashups. (By the way... the bill appropriated $11 million for the web site. The people that went to implement it found that there was a non-profit doing basically the same thing with all open source software. So they offered $1 million to them to just buy their site. The remaining $10 mil is now being used to help other branches of the government do the same thing. The contract houses were bidding the full $11 mil to do the web site, and it would have... well... you know... been as unusable as one of those typical government web sites.)

Anyway... that’s a bit of a tangent.


Sorry for the long quote, but I think my geek friends will appreciate what I found at http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/rssstimulus:

As chaunceyt pointed out, the new stimulus bill’s implementation instructions require that each government agency report the money it gives out in RSS:

For each of the near term reporting requirements (major communications, formula block grant allocations, weekly reports) agencies are required to provide a feed (preferred: Atom 1.0, acceptable: RSS) of the information so that content can be delivered via subscription.

The document is very clear that the items in the feed can’t simply be unstructured text, but have to be reusable data, e.g.:

Formula Block Grant Allocation Reports: Agencies are asked to provide Formula Block Grant Allocation information as soon as it becomes available. Data elements for the formula block grant allocation feed should include:

Data ElementsDescriptionField Type
Recipient NameThe name of the recipient of the award.varchar(45)
Federal Funding AmountAmount of federal government’s obligation or contingent liability, in dollars. A negative number represents a decrease in funding.int(11)
Recipient DUNSUnique nine-digit number issued by Dun & Bradstreet to the agency. Followed by an optional DUNS Plus 4 which allows an agency to submit different bank account data for a single DUNS (Assigned by Dun & Bradstreet)char(13)

And it goes on like this for several pages.

Pretty amazing to see a government so tech-savvy.

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Wow. That's so... 21st century. Amazing.

That is a very interesting change indeed.

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