Should Recovery.gov be mashup-friendly?

President Obama's $825 billion financial stimulus package is making its way through Congress, and a number of groups are calling for increased transparency in how the proposed spending will be shared with citizens, according to CNET.And in 2009, "increased transparency" means public data that can be manipulated into mashups.

President Obama's $825 billion financial stimulus package is making its way through Congress, and a number of groups are calling for increased transparency in how the proposed spending will be shared with citizens, according to CNET.

And in 2009, "increased transparency" means public data that can be manipulated into mashups.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed through the House Appropriations Committee a couple weeks ago, and it is expected to come up for a full House vote in the coming weeks. In addition to authorizing funds, the act also mandates the creation of a Web site to "foster greater accountability and transparency" in the use of those funds -- but the language is vague as to how the data will be provided.

Enter the user-generated mashup.
In previous years, the data from FCC and FEC's labyrinthine and opaque websites was extracted and repurposed into user-friendly interactives, such as The Huffington Post's FundRace tool, which provides users with a Google map view of each donation to the presidential campaigns.
Such innovative mashups were possible because of the legal requirement that all FEC data be made available in full to the public.

In 2008, David Robinson, associate director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, and his colleagues published a now widely-circulated paper calling for the government to provide open access to the raw data used by all federal Web sites.

Now, several organizations are calling for the entire back-end database to be made available.

But will the federal government bother to honor such a request?

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