Who uses government data?


“Forty percent of internet users went online for government data or information in the preceding twelve months,” according to the Government Online report released in April by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In other words, 92 million Americans (with 3/4s of Americans online) accessed data on the business of government.

Among the findings:

  • 23% went online to see how federal stimulus money has been spent
  • 22% downloaded or read the text of any legislation
  • 16% visited a site that provides access to government data (such as data.gov)
  • 14% looked for information on who contributed to elected officials

According to Pew, going online for data or information about the government “is not associated with greater or lesser levels of trust in government.” And although whites generally are more likely to visit government data sites, that distinction disappears for sites such as data.gov.

These findings may provide additional impetus for governmental efforts to improve the data offerings at recovery.gov, THOMAS.gov, data.gov, FEC.gov, and from the House Clerk and Senate Office of Public Records.