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GSA Answers President Obama's Call for Open Government

Agency Opens Up 12 Years of Federal Advisory Committee Data Online through Data.gov

GSA #10653

Dec. 9, 2009
Contact: Caren Auchman, (202) 525-8165
caren.auchman@gsa.gov 

WASHINGTON – Following yesterday’s release of President Obama’s Open Government Directive, the U.S. General Services Administration opened up 12 years of Federal Advisory Committee data. By making this valuable data available online for the first time through Data.gov, the public can now easily review and analyze the work of these committees that provide guidance on important issues affecting the American people.

“GSA is actively working toward a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government by making information easily accessible and engaging the public in dialogue on important issues that affect their lives,” said Michael Robertson, Associate Administrator of GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy. “For the first time, the general public will have access online, at their fingertips to this rich universe of information through the Administration’s transparency portal, Data.gov. By allowing the public to interactively compare and analyze this information, they can gain even more insight into the inner workings of their government.” 

Data made available will include tens of thousands of individual committee records, reports, and meetings detailing $3.24 billion in related spending. The new data includes information on 1,000 federal advisory committees for each year from 1997 through 2008, along with 11,430 individual committee records for 77,740 meetings; 11,317 reports; and 678,948 member entries.

Information available on Data.gov will be downloadable in XML (Extensible Markup Language) and spreadsheet formats allowing users to manipulate and use this data in conjunction with other data available on Data.gov, generating insight into the range of individuals and interests advising government. For example, membership data can be used to understand who advises the government and then can be compared with budget data to correlate advisory committee activity with current priorities.

In addition to helping operate Data.gov by posting and opening up government agencies’ information and datasets, GSA runs USA.gov, the citizen’s gateway to vital information on government services. GSA’s Office of Citizen Services fosters public engagement by using innovative technologies to connect citizens to government information and services.

“As the citizen’s portal to their government, GSA continues to answer the President’s call for an open, participatory government. We are working to make USA.gov more collaborative and interactive to increase citizen engagement,” said Dave McClure, Associate Administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications.

GSA's other programs also help foster collaboration between citizens and their government. GSA's Apps.gov Web site provides free social media and Web 2.0 tools to other government agencies enabling them to increase collaboration and public dialogue.  GSA’s Better Buy Project, a partnership with two not-for-profit partner organizations, allows the public direct input into improving the federal acquisition process. Better Buy uses collaborative technology to gather ideas from the public and then takes promising ideas to pilot them in upcoming acquisitions. Citizens can get involved by visiting www.BetterBuyProject.com.

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