Are the U.S. Government's Open Initiatives Facing a Funding Crisis?
Last week we covered two promising new tools that have been open sourced by the U.S. government, under the watch of Vivek Kundra (shown), the first American CIO for the federal government. According to Kundra, the tools have saved billions of dollars for the U.S. government, and can improve through open source community development. These tools are just a subset of the many open efforts the U.S. government has been promoting through its "open e-government" initiatives. There are signs, though, that major funding problems loom for the overall open government effort in the U.S.
Federal News Radio is reporting that some of the Obama administration's prominent open government initiatives may go dark at the end of May. According to the site:
"Government sources confirm that the Office of Management and Budget is planning to take seven websites dark in two months because of a lack of funding. One government official, who requested anonymity because they didn't get permission to discuss the topic, said funding will begin to run out on April 20 for public sites IT Dashboard, Data.gov and paymentaccuracy.gov. The source said OMB also is planning on shutting down internal government sites, including Performance.gov, FedSpace and many of the efforts related the FEDRamp cloud computing cybersecurity effort. The official said two other sites, USASpending.gov and Apps.gov/now, will run through July 30 but go dark soon after."
There is no named source for the reports, but if these sites are indeed shutting down it is evidence that the push toward open initiatives--including many open source technology initiatives--in the U.S. government may need to be refined and better targeted. Kundra has done a remarkable job shifting important aspects of the U.S. government toward open practices and open source tools. It takes money to run some of these projects at the federal level, though.
The coming weeks should shed light on exactly how much impact there will be on U.S. open e-government projects. OStatic will follow up as the impact becomes clearer.