IT “National Dialogue” Begins

On Monday (April 27, 2009), the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the OMB opened this online discussion to ask the public for ways to make a useful portal for tracking spending data from thousands of federal, state, and local entities.  While it is difficult to know what to expect with regards to a level of response from the public, there does not appear to be a tidal wave of participation yet.  As of today, there are more than 250 “idea categories” that have been submitted.  But further examination reveals ideas considered to be “highest rated” (on a 5-point scale) are based on the response of only 20 or so individuals.

Highest rated ideas so far include:

Democratizing the data.  Worrying less about online analysis tools on the site and placing more emphasis on making the detailed raw data available to the public to be sliced and diced at will.

Standardized mapping.  Providing standardized spending details by geographic location (on an interactive map) down to the local level.   

Enterprise Resource Planning tool.   The suggestion relates specifically to housing construction-related projects, but comments suggest it should  be expanded to other areas of interest.

One bit of irony is the lack of analysis tools on the dialogue site to really delve into the ideas being submitted.  Even with a relatively few responses, getting one’s arms around any trends in comments is a bit difficult.  At any rate, the Transparency Board should be commended for making an effort to open up the conversation to the innovative minds of the American people.


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