Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NSF Launches Open Government Website...

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently launched a new website designed to encourage participation and collaboration between the agency and the citizens it serves.

Following a Web 2.0 model of harnessing ideas through user-generated input, the Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative has led agencies across the government to establish Open Government web pages to collect ideas and suggestions from the public. The hope is that the public will submit ideas, comment, and vote for proposed ways of improving government transparency, among other objectives.

The NSF specifically wants input on access to large data sets and collaborations that aim to facilitate transformative research. In plain English, this means they'd like proposals for people to analyze statistics on the Freedom of Information Act, research grant and fellowship funding, spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and more. [Full list of data sets can be found here]

Take a look for yourselves at the website to see how this works. Reading user submissions is an interesting exercise, if nothing else, and being able to comment and vote on each idea is the modern popular pastime for cubicle workers already. It's like Digg for government. As of the time of this writing, some of the most popular ideas submitted thus far include that the NSF should live webcast all meetings, create a next-generation Opensource/Opensocial portal, and require all taxpayer-funded research to be freely available.

The NSF will publish an official Open Government Plan on April 7th, which will incorporate the submitted ideas and will serve as a roadmap for its efforts to improve transparency. Let's see what the public can come up with...


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