This story is part of a six-part series on how Obama has, over the last eight years, elevated the profile of IT in the public sector. He taught government how to ride the technology bicycle, so to speak. A future president who neglects technology won’t be able to make it forget the skills taught through the influence of Silicon Valley and startup culture, said Aneesh Chopra, the nation’s first chief technology officer.
Before “open data” became a catchphrase for innovation there was Data.gov, the first open data portal for federal agencies. Under the direction of President Obama and the guiding hand of U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra, the site went live in 2009. It was the first platform to deliver federal data to citizens, civic hackers, academics and anyone else seeking insights from government information.
In the beginning, it could arguably be described as an experiment. Yet its growth soon became an inevitability as the Obama administration, along with bipartisan research and transparency groups, latched on to the site as a persuasive tool to drive policy with data. The site has gone on to publish more than 180,000 data sets from federal agencies, embracing a belief long held by successful companies like Google and Amazon that information supersedes the heated emotions and rhetoric of politics.
It’s this idea that fueled the president’s 2013 executive order urging agencies to make open data a default practice. Since then, the White House has leveraged technology and data to find solutions to a host of pressing societal problems.