You may have heard that the Data.gov website is going to be shut down. I wish I could say this is completely false, but I can at least say that it is a bit premature — if Congress cuts the budgets to the threatened level, a number of sites, including Data.gov will have trouble continuing to grow, and some may have to be shut down — but right now the budget cuts are not final, and the plans are still in the works. Data.gov, luckily, is less expensive than some of the other sites to maintain, so the discussion right now is more about cutting plans for expansion than shutting down completely, but even that would be a major blow to open government data. However, sites like USAspending and others will be harder to maintain, and even data.gov could end up shut down if the full cuts go through unchanged (but at least I’m personally hoping the Senate and White House will resist this)
What you can do is to get involved! Let your politicians hear from you — the Sunlight Foundation has a great site about this at http://sunlightfoundation.com/savethedata/ which will let you sign a petition and has some suggestions for other actions. It also has up to date information on the situation — please go look there.
There’s also a lot of articles out there, and much to follow in twitter space — here’s some starting points
In the past day, there have been a lot of articles in the news about Data.gov: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22data+gov%22&hl=en&prmdo=1&tbm=mbl&num=10&lr=&ft=i&cr=&safe=images&tbs=qdr:w#q=data.gov&hl=en&lr=&prmdo=1&tbm=nws&ei=ehuVTfz9GY3msQOCiJ3MBQ&start=0&sa=N&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=83f1e1e6450f219c
A good article by Beth Noveck (I’m the president of her fan club :-) ): Huffington Post: “Why Cutting E-Gov Funding Threatens American Jobs
The hashtag for following this on twitter is #savethedata
So please, join us in saving these important government transparency efforts!!
p.s. For some irony, Hong Kong’s open data site went live today: http://www.gov.hk/en/theme/psi/welcome/
Here’s some more articles and things for those interested
Federal News Radio, Daniel Shuman, Sunlight Foundation, “Budget cuts may end transparency programs” http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=17&sid=232614
Federal News Radio, Executive Editor, Jason Miller, “OMB prepares for open gov sites to go dark in May”: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=35&sid=2327798
Sunlight Foundation, Daniel Shuman, “Budget Technopocalypse Deepens: Transparency Sites will go dark in a few months”: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2011/03/31/budget-technopocalypse-deepens-transparency-sites-will-go-dark-in-a-few-months/
Washington Examiner, Mark Tapscott, “Transparency advocates appeal to Congress to avoid budget cuts”: http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/03/transparent-advocates-appeal-congress-avoid-budget-cuts
PCWorld, Grant Gross, “Group Protests Proposed Cuts to e-Government Transparency Efforts”: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/223618/group_protests_proposed_cuts_in_egovt_transparency_efforts.html
“Data.gov and 7 other sites to shut down after budget cuts”: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/datagov_7_other_sites_to_shut_down_after_budgets_c.php