How Open Source is Transforming Government Data Into Dynamic Information Ecosystems

July 6, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), pledging a renewed focus on open government and transparency, and making it clear that in order for efforts to succeed this renewed focus had to become a top priority at each step of its execution.

To provide initial guidance, the White House released detailed documents on Recovery Act transparency and reporting, which broadens the focus beyond funding programs to include details pertaining to how performance information is communicated to stakeholders, and the means by which this may be accomplished. Over the past 20 years, governments have been applying the concepts of Performance Measurement and Management in order to maximize results and minimize negative outcomes – first outlined under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in 1993, and later in a new piece of legislation called The President’s Management Agenda, which was introduced in 2002.

What sets the ARRA apart is the scale of the Act and the urgency it represents, across the nation and at every level of government. With a $787 billion ante on the line, federal and state agencies need to get it right, or outcomes may be catastrophic to future generations. Doing it right, however, means that today’s stimulus programs need to sustain future growth in areas such as Energy, Transportation, Education, Health and Infrastructure, while giving the economy the kick start it needs today to get back on track.

With so much money at stake, and an overwhelming amount of information being published about how government needs to respond to the challenge, how should government agencies engage the process to ensure they can both focus on delivering expected results while responding to the enhanced demands for transparency and accountability outlined in the Act? Moreover, what pitfalls should government avoid to ensure that the individuals tasked with managing the successful execution of these programs are equipped to focus on their delivery as opposed to managing the data around the program? History has taught both corporate and government sectors that an overabundance of data can systematically begin to paralyze an organization. Without a clear direction and identification of goals and objectives, individuals within any organization either lose sight of the mission or may have never understood the mission because it was never communicated to them.

Ricky Pristin is a writer that specializes in SaaS BI and Business Intelligence BI.

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