Data.gov, a flagship of the U.S. government's transparency efforts, looks to be on the chopping block as budget cuts reduce the Electronic Government Fund from $35 million to $8 million. It isn't yet clear how data.gov will be affected, but it could be shut down or severely limited.
When President Barack Obama took office, he started a major initiative to open up government data to citizens. He appointed Vivek Kundra as the United States' first chief information officer and launched a flurry of Internet-based open-data efforts that were imitated by several cities.
That now seems a distant memory as politicians cast about for programs that can be cut to reduce the federal budget deficit. But data experts say the loss of data.gov could stifle a growing movement that is trying to help citizens get more benefit from data they are already paying for.
"Government data has been around for a long time, but it often hasn't been open," says Rufus Pollock, an associate of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and director of the Open Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that works to promote the availability of data that can be freely used, transformed, and shared.