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BEA Adds More Open Data to API

Guest Blog produced by: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

BEADevelopers, do you want to bring more detailed economic data to your next app? The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently added several data sets to the application programming interface (API) we launched last year.

The API now provides direct access to the gross domestic product (GDP) underlying detail tables. Those tables contain a wealth of statistics, including how much consumers spend on hundreds of items like furnishings, food and flowers and how much revenue the government takes in and spends.

Other recently added data to the API provide information on:

  • National fixed assets, which include statistics on fixed assets like factory equipment, buildings, intellectual property and durable goods for consumers.
  • U.S. trade and investment relationships with other countries.
  • Economic impact of U.S. industries.
  • Activities of multinational enterprises.

The new additions give you the ability to create an even richer, customized economic dashboard of your own.

The new data sets join BEA’s GDP and related national economic statistics and regional economic statistics, which have been available via API since the service launched in May 2013. In addition to expanding the amount of data available on the API, BEA published an updated User Guide, making it easier for developers to start using the service.

BEA’s API allows developers to build a service to search, display, analyze, retrieve, or view BEA statistics. For example, you can create a “mashup” that combines BEA data with other government or private data sources to create new services or give your users a different perspective on their communities. Or you can design a tool that gives your users new ways to visualize economic data.

The API includes methods for retrieving subsets of BEA statistical data and the meta-data that describes it using HTTP requests. It delivers data in two industry-standard formats: XML (Extensible Markup Language) and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

To use the API, you need to register first. Full documentation is available in the updated API User Guide.

The BEA’s API is just one way BEA is supporting open data. Visit BEA’s Open Data site for a complete listing of BEA’s data sets in a machine readable JSON format, along with access to downloadable data sets and other data tools.

Open Government Blog Post

Guest Blog produced by: Census Bureau’s Open Government Senior Leader

At the Census Bureau, we collect data— you may have evenparticipated in some of our collection efforts, like the decennial census, the American Community Survey or the Current Population Survey. But did you know that data dissemination is an equally important responsibility? Right now, we are working on several initiatives aimed to make our data more accessible than ever before. Everyone from survey respondents, researchers, developers and members of the public rely on Census Bureau statistics, and we must meet all of their needs.

One way that many Americans interact with Census Bureau data is through our website. This year, we redesigned to make it easier for you to find what you need. We found that our customers wanted to browse information by topic, so we updated the site’s navigational features. We also released new interactive data tools, like the revised Population Clock and Census Flows Mapper. One particularly exciting change is the improved search function — users now can search population, poverty and income for a desired location and get statistics within the search results. Whether customers are looking for quick facts or detailed information for their communities, we have a tool for them to find the information they need. And even more improvements are on the way.

The improved search function is one example of a feature that is possible because of our Open API — a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing data. We launched the API in 2012 to give developers access to high-value data sets from our surveys and other key economic indicators, and we are continually adding new data sets.

 The API delivers easy access to our data and allows developers to combine it with other sources to create tools that benefit the public. For example, My Congressional District, a tool on, provides users with statistics about congressional districts by pulling data from the Census Bureau’s API. We are continuing to solicit feedback from developers to improve the API and often attend local meet ups and hold internal codeathons to generate ideas.

As the authoritative source for legal and statistical geographic boundaries in the U.S, our Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) suite of products provides another example of how we are innovating to disseminate data. TIGER is a digital geographic database that automates the mapping and related geographic activities required to support the Census Bureau’s census and survey programs.  We recently launched TIGERweb, a set of APIs, services and a Web application for disseminating and visualizing geospatial data. TIGERweb allows our customers to easily use Web map services directly in their applications and contains scores of detailed geographic layer data.

Through these and other innovative tools, the Census Bureau continues to lead the way in Open Government goals and objectives. We have also held recent webcasts that allow the public to learn first-hand how and why we collect data. We are committed to developing more and better ways to make data accessible to our diverse range of customers, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Open Government Directive Benchmarks

The White House's Open Government Directive requires Cabinet-level agencies, such as the Department of Commerce, to pass certain milestones as part of our efforts to be more open and transparent. The timeline below details the specific benchmarks we're moving toward, and shows the Department's progress in achieving them.

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45 days—January 22, 2010

  • Completed: Designate a high-level senior official to be accountable for Federal spending information publicly disseminated (Date Completed: 1/22/2010)
  • Completed: Identify and publish online, in an open format, at least three high-value data sets (Date Completed: 1/22/2010)

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60 days—February 6, 2010

  • Completed: Launch the Commerce Open Government Website at, to provide ways for the public to find information and provide feedback on the data sets, our FOIA process, and the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 2/5/2010)
  • Completed: Provide contact information for Commerce's designated Open Government representative and create Commerce Open Government email account, (Date Completed: 2/5/2010)
  • Completed: Launch the Citizen Engagement Tool,, to solicit feedback and ideas (Date Completed: 2/5/2010)

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120 days—April 7, 2010

  • Completed: Select Commerce Open Government Team and begin meeting (Date Completed: 1/08/2010)
  • Completed: Release First Draft template for the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 3/12/2010)
  • Completed: Solicit public feedback for the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 3/20/2010)
  • Completed: Integrate public feedback for the Commerce Open Government Plan (Date Completed: 4/2/2010)
  • Completed: Publish Commerce Open Government Plan on Commerce Open Government website (Date Completed: 4/7/2010)