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Online project aims to mine difficult-to-find government data

A new online project cosponsored by the Center for Public Integrity and the Sunlight Foundation is trying to identify inaccessible or difficult-to-use information from the federal government.

Through the project, the two groups are requesting tips about federal government records, databases and filings that should be open to the public, according to the Data Mine project Web site.

Information being searched for under the project includes:

  • Denials of Freedom of Information Act requests by government agencies.
  • Government reports or data that are unnecessarily hidden from public view.
  • Instances where government data was successfully obtained but is too cumbersome or impractical to use in today's electronic environment.

Since the Data Mine was launched Feb. 12, the project identified how the public can examine more than 10 million declassified CIA documents, but only by appearing in person at a National Archives storage building in suburban Washington, according the project's Web site.

The Data Mine also highlights how the Agriculture Department's data-rich site omits annual listing of subsidy payments to individual farmers, according to the Web site. Information about subsidy payments to individual farmers could not be found in an independent search of the USDA's Economic Research Service site.

The nonprofit Sunlight Foundation's mission is to use technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable, according to the foundation's site. The Center for Public Integrity produces original investigative journalism about public issues to make institutional power more transparent and accountable, its Web site says. 

Posted by Doug Beizer on Mar 18, 2010 at 7:24 PM

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