Study: Many unaware of open government programs; State launches aid dashboard

Advocates of open government have released a major study on citizen and government employee attitudes. Meanwhile, the State Department has created a foreign aid dashboard online.

Open government is getting traction among the public and government employees, but there are still a few gaps. For example, 28 percent of government employees say open government is not funded and 65 percent of people surveyed are unaware of open government initiatives.

Those are two of the findings of the massive Open Government Data Benchmark Study published online Dec. 15 by Socrata Inc. in collaboration with the Sunlight Foundation, the Personal Democracy Forum, GovLoop, Code for America and David Eaves.

The study shares more than two dozen findings based on surveys of consumers, government employees and developers. It explores attitudes, feelings, preferred formats and awareness of open government activity, among other topics.

Other survey findings include:

  • Some 68 percent of users and 93 percent of government employees say if data is available to the public, it should be online.
  • By a three-to-one margin, people are also more likely to vote for politicians who champion open government.
  • 56 percent of government employees said their organizations have a mandate to share data.
  • 56 percent of developers say they can't find the data they need to enable their applications.

Meanwhile, the State Department and Agency for International Development have started an online Foreign Assistance Dashboard to track financial aid to foreign countries.

The data on the foreign aid dashboard is available for download in machine-readable formats. In addition, other agencies that offer foreign assistance will begin adding their data in the coming months.

Jeremy Weinstein, director for democracy on the national security staff at the White House, and Robynn Sturm, adviser to the deputy director in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, made the announcement Dec. 16 in a blog post.