DATA Act Beta Site Gets a Revamp


In November of last year, the Treasury Department launched a beta of USAspending.gov, the public website for government spending data.  

OpenBeta.USAspending.gov was created after Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the DATA Act of 2014 into law. The DATA Act drastically expands the amount of spending data the Treasury Department and Office of Budget and Management has to collect and mandates that all spending information related to financial management, payments, budget actions, procurement, and assistance must be standardized and published in an open data format by May of 2018.

Last month, Treasury DATA Act Product Manager Kaitlin Devine announced the release of the second iteration of OpenBeta.USAspending.gov at the Coalition’s DATA Act Summit. While giving the Summit audience their first look at the new beta, Devine outlined how Treasury is working to incorporate more user-friendly functions that will cater to stakeholders’ needs. The site will eventually host all DATA Act mandated data sets, though no new data sets have been published there yet.

Version 2 is now live for everybody to explore!

Here’s What New in Version 2

  1. New comments and discussion feature for each concept.

Version 2 includes a new comment and discussion section for every concept on OpenBeta.USAspending.gov. What this means is broader user input on design elements. Ultimately, this will allow anyone to comment on a concept and interact directly with the Treasury design team. But it will also make it easier for Treasury to collect specialized input and facilitate discussions and comments.

Treasury’s open beta team has created a new fluid process to handle comments and feedback from all types stakeholders and in all types of forums, including town halls and workshops. This type of stakeholder engagement is truly unique for government. Our Coalition congratulates the Treasury team on the diversity of engagement.

  1. New wireframes for search results.

Not only has the DATA Act design team expanded its stakeholder engagement, but they have also included new wireframes for search results. A wireframe, “also known as a page schematic or screen blueprint, is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website,” according to Wikipedia. Treasury’s team is showing us how they are thinking about handling search results in the future. New wireframes on search results create an easy and functional method to test the design elements.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 12.04.14 PM

Screen shot of the new wireframing on OpenBeta.USAspending.gov.

 

Next Steps

Members of the Data Coalition have products and services that can deliver accountability for citizens and investors and enable data-driven management decision – if the DATA Act is fully implemented. OpenBeta.USAspending.gov is one part in achieving full DATA Act implementation.

Companies like Socrata and OpenGov are already helping states, municipalities, and counties publish spending in a user-friendly way. Ohio, for instance, has one of the best checkbook-level spending transparency websites in the country, according to the Public Interest Research Group. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel led the open data effort there.

Want to Engage? Here’s How

The Data Coalition expects more iterations of OpenBeta.USAspending.gov to follow. It’s important that the public, data advocates and the private sector engage in the process. Treasury has made it simple to schedule an in-person testing session. For details click here (scroll down to the bottom of the article).

Treasury’s continued commitment to diverse stakeholder engagement and a transparent roll out of open beta will ensure DATA Act implementation is on track to succeed.