Save the Data 2012: the budget fight over transparency begins

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This Thursday will be a important test of the House of Representative’s commitment to fund key transparency programs like USASpending.gov, Data.gov, the IT Dashboard. That morning, a very influential subcommittee will debate and vote upon how much money should be made available to the Electronic Government Fund, which pays for these programs and others. In anticipation of the vote, the Sunlight Foundation and many other organizations and notable individuals are releasing a letter today that calls for the restoration of full funding to these transparency programs.

Although the e-gov fund was appropriated $34m in FY 2009 and 2010, it was cut to¬†$8m after months of wrangling¬†over the FY 2011 budget. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has explained that at that funding level, “no project will go unaffected.” It will likely mean the end of improvements to websites like USASpending.gov and Data.gov, worsening data quality, the release of fewer datasets, and the end of several programs.

A number of prominent members of Congress, including Reps. Darrell Issa and Jose Serrano and Sens. Joe Lieberman and Tom Carper, have spoken out in favor of the programs made possible by the e-gov fund. This year’s dramatically diminished funding level has precipitously weakened these programs; if it continues, they will slip into a coma.

We will keep an eye on the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing scheduled for this Thursday and let you know what happens. In the meantime, our joint letter is below.

House E-Gov Fund Sign-On letter

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