August 23, 2017

Research Tools: USAFacts.org, a New Resource For US Government Spending/Revenue Data Makes Debut

In Their (USAFacts.gov) Own Words:

USAFacts is a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy. We hope that USAFacts will make a modest contribution toward building consensus and finding solutions.

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Coverage

Former Microsoft CEO Launches New Tool For Finding Government Data (via Wired)

A new project from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Seattle design studio Artefact aims to change that. Called USAFacts, it’s an ambitious, $10 million effort to present government data in a way that’s open, non-partisan, and stupidly easy to understand

Note From infoDOCKET

Although a beta releaseUSAData.org should already be providing data source and publication date metadata for every entry.

At this point we do not see this info at USASpending.org.

For example, this chart showing property crime data or this table with tax data do NOT provide info about the source and publication date. Until this metadata is provided and easily viewable (aka not requiring a click to find/access) be VERY careful.

While we did spot (after a click or two) that the source/data metadata is “coming soon” we find it disappointing and troubling that it was not provided from hour one/day one. It’s nothing less than ESSENTIAL.

A general list of data sources is available but much more is required ASAP.

USAData should also announce when new data becomes available and it becomes accessible via the database very soon after is is released. Long lag times will reduce the usefulness of the database.

Finally (for now), if USAData sounds similar to a resource you might have heard about and used during the past year. You’re correct.

One year ago (April 4, 2016) the MIT Media Lab and partners launched Data USA, also free to access and use.

Overview/Intro Video

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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