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Coding, Not Just for the Boys

Instead of scheduling brunch plans or enjoying a lazy afternoon this weekend, close to 40 women took over the Sunlight conference room this past Saturday for an all-female software training program conducted by GeekChic. Here at Sunlight, we were happy to host the training and help cultivate more developers in the DC community with the hopes of increasing awareness of open data and turning these future developers on to our APIs and databases.

So many ladies learning programming!! #sunlightgram

While many our developer colleagues were participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking, a number of us were here writing our first lines of code. In the seven-hour training intensive, we covered the basics of command line, learned to write and execute code in Python, got our style on with some basic CSS and HTML training as well as created our first web app on Django. (Whew, that was exhausting just recounting what we did.) Six Sunlighters, with a range of tech know how, participated in the training and here’s what we learned (and real life testimonials on why you shouldn’t be afraid to learn to code!). If you are interested in partnering with Sunlight to host technology workshops, please contact events@sunlightfoundation.com.

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Update on FedBizOpps data

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Earlier this week I wrote about a discrepancy between the data in FedBizOpps  and the data in USASpending.gov.  It was my understanding that all contracts awarded by the government (worth over $25,000) and their solicitations would be reported to FedBizOpps and that the number of the contracts awarded would be in the same neighborhood as the number of contracts that the government reports to USASpending.gov. Instead, I discovered that in 2012 there were only 8,138 award notices and 18,546 solicitation notices in FedBizzOpps, while there were 178,375 contracts reported on in USASpending.gov. At the time of writing that post I was still waiting on a definitive response from the Office of Management and Budget or the General Services Administration.

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Over 170k Award Notices Missing From FedBizOpps

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As part of our recent procurement initiative, I've been playing around with the data present in FedBizOpps, ( or FBO.gov) -- it’s the single point of entry for posting all government solicitations, award notices, and various other informational notices regarding government contracts. In short, all contracts awarded must be reported here. What is immediately striking is that the number of awards posted to FedBizOpps does not come even remotely close to the number of awards in USASpending.gov -- the database that tracks contract spending. FedBizOpps reports a mere 8,138 contracts awarded for 2012, while USASpending reports 178,375 contract awards for that same year. Common sense tells us that the number of contracts in each database should match. The fact that they don’t is a mystery at the moment, but the problem could be due to broadly defined exceptions, or even poor reporting and oversight as we've seen in other cases involving government reporting. In order to see specifics in the data and run an analysis, I extracted the data into a postgresql database. The data source I used is an XML file on fbo.gov's FTP server, which seems to include data from the last 13 years.

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