During the run up to last years landmark election, then-candidate Barack Obama made a promise to appoint a federal Chief Technology Officer to oversee the federal IT infrastructure and data. In our primary endorsement of Obama, we said:
In the wake of 9/11, a glaring weakness was revealed in the FBI’s technology infrastructure. That has not been addressed. As one with first hand experience working for both the Department of the Navy and Health and Human Services, I can attest to technology tone-deafness. One candidate is proposing the creation of a CTO position to ensure that all government agencies are moving forward into the 21st century with modern technology at their fingertips. As a sidenote, how is it we don’t have a CTO already”
At the time, and throughout the campaign, we were not clear that such a position would actually become two positions – Chief Information Officer, a position held by former District of Columbia CTO Vivek Kundra and responsible for the policy and strategic planning of technology efforts by the administration and the executive agencies, and Chief Technology Officer, held by Aneesh Chopra.
In a nod to government bureaucracy, Mr. Chopras actual title is Chief Technology Officer and Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology. Fit that on a business card.
Mr. Chopra, who is a geeked out geek all by himself, was at the Personal Democracy Forum, a tech heavy conference with an emphasis on technology play within government, political action and open government, where he unveiled USASpending.gov. The new site provide a new dashboard for overview of spending across the federal agencies.
It’s an interesting website, for sure, from an administration who appears to have done its’ level best to open up the windows and the doors of government with projects like Data.Gov, designed to provide raw data sources to developers and those interested in digging inside the raw numbers, and Recovery.gov, designed to aid and assist in the economic recovery.
Certainly, the new IT Dashboard is incomplete and it seems they know that. Notably, it’s easy to get 50,000 foot snapshots in the form of a pie chart, but the data should be something that can be drilled into more than it already is.
Here’s a video demonstrating the use of the new dashboard.
Also, take a look at other articles about it.
- techPresident – PdF ’09: Kundra Unveils IT Spending Dashboard
- TechCrunch – Can Open Government Be Gamed?
- Tim O’Reilly – Radical Transparency: The New Federal IT Dashboard