The best government would be one where citizens would “never have to visit a government website again,” according to Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel.
VanRoekel and Federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park attended an industry event Wednesday where they reiterated a strategy for connecting the public to federal data.
“Part of our goal for inspiring this way of innovation is to bring government innovation and government technology to citizens where they are, where they play, where they act, anytime, anywhere on any device,” VanRoekel said.
“Data that is public should be made public, to drive the social side, the civic participation side and the application programming interface (API) side of taking government data and making it a platform,” VanRoekel said.
VanRoekel and Park are working with every agency to have a “developer” page to catalog specific data for each site’s users, which would mimic Data.gov’s initiative as a developer portal within the federal government, a one-step catalog of information and open data sites.
“However, you can’t just blindly liberate data and hope for the best,” Park said. “Data by itself is useless — data is only useful if it gets applied to create public benefit. We’re thinking about the deliverable, as an ecosystem of entrepreneurs that uses the data, continually improving the data to build services, generating improvement in people’s lives.”
About a month ago, the White House launched the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, for innovators and entrepreneurs to develop applicable data projects seeking to save taxpayers money, fuel job creation, and improve government communication with citizens across the country. Among the program’s components:
The Open Data Initiatives Program: to stimulate the creation of new apps and services and to generate greater communication between people and services such as health care providers, education systems, etc. This project uses data from governmental and non-governmental sources to create tools that can help Americans “better navigate their world.”
Blue Button for America: for Americans to securely download an electronic copy of their health information and records, and to gain knowledge on their healthcare services.
MyGov: for citizens to access federal information online, but to also personalize the information they wish to receive.
RFP-EZ: a project that will build a platform that makes it easier for small businesses to navigate the federal government.
The 20% Campaign: to use electronic payment mechanisms to support foreign policy, to reduce waste and administrative costs while stimulating a better outcome for all parties involved.
While applications for the fellowship have now closed, VanRoekel and Park encouraged many to sign up to ‘follow’ these projects on their website, to give feedback and any expert advice to help innovate and move digital government forward.
“The only way we will improve our data is if we get feedback from people who are actually trying to use it,” Park said.
For more information on these digital, government projects, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/innovationfellows.