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From earmark to disappearmark: Bush administration policy shift cut funding for congressional projects

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Rep. David Price, D-N.C.

In 2005, Rep. David Price, D-N.C., earmarked more than $19.6 million to launch a light rail project in his district—one that he had promised to continue his “strong support for” by finding additional federal funding though his position on the House Appropriations Committee.

The light rail project was authorized by SAFETEA-LU, a law enacted in 2005 that was notable for the billions in earmarks it funded—including questionable projects like the “bridges to nowhere” in Alaska and the Prairie Parkway in Illinois.

Yet the light rail project Price sought funding for was ...

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Illegal immigrant stats available, but yet to appear on Data.gov

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According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, there were an estimated 460,000 unauthorized immigrants in Arizona in January 2009. That statistic, making Arizona the state with the seventh largest illegal immigrant population, was often cited last week, as Gov. Jan Brewer signed the nation’s toughest law on illegal immigration.

The number comes from “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States,” a report that the DHS releases each year, but sadly does not add to Data.gov. It takes a little digging to find it, but the most recent report for January 2009 (released in ...

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Financial reform lobbyists host fundraisers for senators

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Since the beginning of 2010 through April, at least ten senators who sit on the Banking and Agriculture Committees are listed as beneficiaries of fundraisers hosted by lobbyists who have pressed Congress on financial reform issues. Both committees have recently worked on a bill to overhaul the financial regulatory system, which will likely be debated on the Senate floor next week.

According to Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time database, the fundraisers ranged from a “pre-St.Patrick’s Day” reception for Banking Committee member Jon Tester, D-Mont., on March 16 that asked for $100 to $1,000 in contributions, to a ...

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OGD: Food access mapping tool provides more than just its title

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As part of the First Lady’s campaign to combat childhood obesity, the Department of Agriculture in February launched the Your Food Environment Atlas – an online mapping tool of the nation’s access to food at the county level.

The tool, developed by the USDA Economic Research Service, also happens to serve the dual role of becoming one of three datasets that Agriculture plans to add to its contributions to Data.gov as agencies continue to comply with the White House Open Government Directive.

While the tool is labeled as a method for the public to access information about their ...

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Recovery.gov: Completely Tracking One-Fifth of the Recovery Act

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In his State of the Union Address late last month, President Barack Obama declared - to great applause - that there were two million Americans working now who would otherwise be unemployed if not for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.

Three days later, the same night that Recovery.gov released a slew of new data on individual projects funded by the stimulus, the site Web ticker that tracks the total number of jobs reported by recipients dropped from 640,349 to 599,108.

Did we suddenly lose 40,000 jobs? And didnt the President say that ...

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Great data available, but only if you pay up

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One of the little-publicized gems on Data.gov comes to us from the Commerce Department's National Technical Information Service.

This office is a clearinghouse of government-funded scientific, technical, engineering and business-related information that provides access to 3 million publications covering 350 subjects. In January, the service added its database to Data.gov, with a description that reads: "The Database represents billions of dollars in research. The electronic file dates back to 1964. NTIS adds approximately 60,000 new records per year to the Database, most records include abstracts and are available in full text. Contents include research reports, computer ...

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OGD: Defense releases what it already releases

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To comply with the Open Government Directive, the Defense Department designated three high-value datasets last week, among them a listing of those requesting more transparency from the Pentagon. DoD released details on the 4,000 Freedom of Information requests it has received as well as datasets with information on service members gender and race, U.S. state, and marriage statistics.

Interestingly, the three datasets that Defense said were its high value releases, fulfilling a requirement of the first stage of the directive, were not marked as agency-reported high-value dataset (with an asterisk) on Data.gov. This seems like a small ...

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