Public perception of federal government technology is not generally positive, given well-documented failures and high expectations set by world-class user experience in consumer services, from Amazon to Google to Facebook to Uber. The good news is that there has been genuine progress in recent years.
Three important trends in the use of technology by U.S. government have become more common in 2016: working in the open, civic technologists moving into government and building with the users of a given dataset, service or application.
Public servants entrusted with are building alpha or beta versions of government websites face an additional challenge: getting enough feedback to ensure that what they are creating improves the services, data disclosure or other experience that citizens, residents, customers and coworkers depend on. That’s where you come in.
What we’re asking of Sunlight’s community today is simple: Please go look at the designs and prototypes for the next USASpending.gov posted here and provide feedback.
Sunlight has been committed to improving how the federal government uses the internet to open its books to the public for years. We built ClearSpending.org, which demonstrated the quality issues with government data at USASpending.gov. We also advocated for The Data Act, which is quietly transforming how government discloses spending data to the public.
The commitment of our staff to be improving spending data disclosure extended beyond our walls and servers: Kaitlin Devine, a former developer at Sunlight Labs, entered public service last year to code for our country. She is now part of a team that has built a beta version of a new USAspending.gov that represents an important next step in the evolution of the United States Treasury’s approach to informing the public online.
Whether you’re a developer, journalist, statistician, designer, researcher, librarian, entrepreneur, policy wonk, teacher or member of the public that wants to know how your taxpayer dollars are being spent, your opinion matters. Our government will only be as good as we make it.