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III. Transparency

Why Commerce Needs to Do This

Unlocking public access to government data is a critical component of the President’s Open Government Initiative. From rainfall levels measured by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) to the portrait of the nation developed every 10 years by the Census Bureau,data collection and dissemination is a vital aspect of what the Department does. Thus Commerce – as an organization – is fully committed to making its data sets more broadly accessible through the government-wide Data.gov initiative. It is also prepared to serve as a leader in the FederalGovernment’s effort to make more raw data and tool sets of packaged data available through the Data.gov Web site and other data repositories.

“Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about whattheir government is doing. Information maintained by theFederal Government is a national asset.”
President Barack Obama

What Commerce Has Done

Historically, the Department of Commerce has been a source of information for the public through data collection and dissemination partnerships with state, local and tribal governments; educational and scientific institutions; nonprofit organizations; and for-profit businesses. Commerce maintains a comprehensive public records management web site, which provides records control schedules for the Department and its operating units, records management policies and guidance, and links to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the wealth of information it contains. Additionally, Commerce and its operating units have identified and submitted to NARA records schedules for almost all electronic records. Commerce routinely approves the transfer of permanent records stored in the federal records center system to NARA, in accordance with instructions in the applicable records control schedules.

In keeping with transparency and openness, Commerce has developed and documented detailed procedures for posting all information technology (IT) investments to the federal IT dashboard. The monthly reporting process includes publication by the Department's CIO of a red, yellow, or green status rating for each investment. The Department’s goal is to review all investments with a red or yellow CIO risk rating each month and to review one-third of all green-rated investments during that same period. By September 1, 2009 – well in advance of when the “Open Government Directive” was issued – Commerce had published over 104,000 data sets and data tools on Data.gov and, by January 22, 2010, it had released over 60,000 additional data sets and tools. While the vast majority of the data sets involve Census geodata that will allow the public to map other bits of information, Commerce’s 166,600 data sets also include 40 tools that should make other sets easier to use. The tools in Data.gov provide access to multiple datasets; in some cases these represent thousands of raw datasets from an organization.

To assist Commerce in adhering to the guidance provided in OMB Open Government Directive and to make existing and new data sets and tools more easily accessible by the public, the Department has established an internal community of Data.gov points of contact (POCs) from each of its operating units. This communication network supports the enhanced exchange of information throughout the Department. As part of that effort, Commerce has encouraged data owners to develop timelines to publish new information and enhance previously published information. Commerce is also improving existing data user tools to allow greater access across all of its operating units and by other federal agencies and departments.

The following table provides additional detail about a snapshot of the data the Department is making available on Data.gov, the operating units that have provided or have responsibility for them, and how often they were downloaded. In the table below, for the purposes of the OpenGovernment Directive, “high-value” datasets must have appeared after December 12, 2009 and met other criteria; many of the datasets listed below were available before this date. A significant number of datasets were newly provided in the raw format that developers and other members of the public find most useful.

Commerce Data Sets Released to Data.gov

as of 6/7/2010

Agency / Operating Unit

Raw Datasets
(high-value)
 

Tools
(high-value)

Geodata

Total

Number of Times Downloaded
(3/28/10 – 4/3/10)

Commerce

51 (4)

55 (2)

166,494

166,600

1250

  BEA

0

2

0

2

11

  BIS

2

0

0

2

48

  ITA

0

2

0

2

18

  NIST

0

3

0

3

47

  NOAA

11 (1)

4

2001

2016

197

  NTIS

1 (1)

0

0

1

22

  NTIA

1 (1)

0

0

1

63

  Census

4

16

164,493

164,513

422

  USPTO

32 (1)

28 (2)

0

60

422

Throughout its history, the Department of Commerce has published high- value data as part of its scientific, technological, and economic programs. As a result, Commerce has been able to establish best practices in distribution and publication processes that meet the ever-evolving needs of the public.

The responsibilities of the Data.gov POCs are built on OMB’s guidelines for increasing transparency, participation, and collaboration. Their job is to focus on several themes: expanding access, utilizing open platforms, disaggregating data, adopting rapid integration, emphasizing program responsibility, growing and improving through user feedback, and embracing and driving best practices. Commerce is using the POCs to build integrated, replicable processes that allow interaction between data owners, technical staff, knowledge management staff, and the public.

Commerce has launched a series of projects to increase transparency by publishing high-value information. Details for 30 such projects are provided below.

Projects to Increase Transparency by Publishing High-Value Information

Operating Unit

Project

Census Bureau

Launching 2010 Census.Gov Site

Improving the Census Bureau’s History Web Site

Publicizing the Statistical Abstract of the United States Initiative

Improving Access to Economic Programs

Improving Access to Central Indicator Data Repository

Instituting Data User Notifications

Publishing Automated Export Systems Best Practices Online

Implementing Local Employment Dynamics Program

Improving Local Employment Dynamics Data Visualization

Modernizing Business HelpSite

Re-engineering State and Local Governments Statistical Programs and Improving Data Presentations

Adding Web-based Learning Tools to Improve Access to Economic Programs

ITA

Improving Online Access to Free Trade Agreement Results Database

NIST

Improving Dissemination of Basic Research Results via Web and Social Media

Improving Access to the Digital Data Repository of NIST Collections, including Publications, Artifacts, and Photographs Relating to Measurement Science

NOAA

Modernizing the NOAA Climate Database

Improving Access to Severe Weather Data Inventory

Upgrading Ocean Surface Current Simulator

Instituting Online Access to Regional Data in Partnership with the San Francisco Exploratorium

Improving U.S. Drought Portal with Addition of Soil Moisture Observation Data

Providing Online Access to Historical Climate Data Through Historical Climate Reanalysis Project

Establishing NOAA Climate Services Portal

NTIA

Creating a National Broadband Map

Establishing Online Access to Results of Broadband Survey

NTIS

Making Five Years of Bibliographic Data Searchable

USPTO

Providing Online Access to Patent Maintenance Fee Events Data

Expanding Patent Bibliographic Data

Enhancing USPTO Data Capabilities Available to the Public

Office
of the Secretary

Publishing Public Schedule Data for Secretary Online

Expanding Video Streaming for More Commerce Meetings

Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau)

  • Project – Launching 2010 Census.Gov Site

What’s new – Two way communications, web 2.0 tools and social media throughout
As part of the extensive outreach effort for the 2010 Decennial Census, the Census Bureau launched a highly interactive Web site (www.2010census.gov) to inform the public about all aspects of the Decennial Census. The Web site contains information about the Decennial Census in 60 languages, engages users through rich multimedia features, and leverages social media tools such as the Director’s Blog to build confidence and trust with the community. The public has been able to follow the progress of the Decennial Census on popular social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr. In addition, 2010census.gov has a fully mirrored Web site in Spanish. The Census Bureau also collaborated with Google to develop a unique mapping tool called “Take 10,” which allows the public to track how the country – at the national, state, and local levels – has responded to the Decennial Census by completing and returning questionnaires to the Census Bureau. An easy-to-embed participation rate tracker, i.e., a widget, was also developed for embedding in any Web site to track progress.

  • Project – Improving the Census Bureau’s History Web Site

What’s new – Increased usability and accessibility and modernization of the menu system
The Census Bureau’s history Web site and publications Web site exceed standards for Section 508 compliance and accuracy in HTML coding to ensure proper function and readability.
To address usability and accessibility of reports published in Abode PDF format, the Census Bureau updated the Web site with the Adobe InDesign software. InDesign is an industry leader for publishing professional documents for printing, posting online, or downloading to mobile devices. The Web site is also being modernized by the introduction of a more dynamic menu system that has a faster and more accurate search engine function and requires fewer clicks to access individual reports. Also, subject categories are being expanded and clarified to improve greater accessibility.
Updating the history Web site’s content provides a “pop culture” view of census data in the context of current events or historic anniversaries. Past content has included historic census data related to “National Bar-B-Que Month” and baseball’s “Opening Day.” As this plan is being prepared, the current homepage features census data related to the anniversary of the Interstate Highway System. Not only are these data timely because of the anniversary, but census data and the construction of the highway system were featured in the latest installment of the History Channel’s “America: The Story of Us.”
Future plans for the history Web site are to incorporate new format for videos and photographs. Photographs will be given descriptive tags to aid visually impaired viewers. Additionally, video content will include subtitles, supplied by the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office, for the hearing impaired. New “widgets” are continuously being developed to make these Internet pages more exciting. As a result, Web site visitors to the history site will soon “discover” video content in “pop-up” browsers using the flv (flash) extension, improved access to photographs, the ability to download multiple photographs in a single step via Zip files, companion access to photograph and video content via Flickr and YouTube, and increased interaction with content interactive maps, tables, and Web pages.

  • Project – Publicizing the Statistical Abstract of the United States Initiative

What’s new - Exploring the use of social media to publicize the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, the County and City Data Book
The Census Bureau is exploring the use of social media to publicize the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, the County and City Data Book, USA Counties, and Quickfacts data sets. One goal is to promote the vast array of statistical tables contained in both printed and electronic media. These tables present a comprehensive and useful portrait of the social, economic, demographic, housing, and political organization of the United States. Information contained in the Statistical Abstract is referenced frequently in national and local news reports. By using social media Web sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and by creating a blog, the Census Bureau provides useful data for policy makers, researchers, students, librarians, statisticians, government agencies, businesses, economists and members of the general public.

  • Project – Improving Access to Economic Programs

What’s New – Improved Web site navigation
The Census Bureau’s Economic Programs cover myriad topics and, over the years, information relating to them has been published on various dissimilar Internet pages. Even the most veteran users have found it difficult to find information they need, and new or unsophisticated users are even more challenged. A project now under way seeks to ease access to these data by adopting standard Web page designs and standard access cues. An integrated search tool, linked to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) keyword search, provides for each industry a list of all available reports as well as available geographic area data. To assist novice users of the data and access tools, a series of brief instructional videos provides step-by-step instructions.
More information can be found at http://www.census.gov/business.

  • Project – Improving Access to Central Indicator Data Repository (CIDR)

What’s New – Easy access to all principal economic indicators published by the Census Bureau
The Census Bureau’s Economic Programs include 12 principal economic indicators covering retail trade, wholesale trade, services, manufacturing, business inventories, manufacturers’ and retailers’ profits, construction, and international trade. These monthly and quarterly reports are among the most closely watched statistics published by the Census Bureau. The reports have been published in a variety of dissimilar formats and layouts. The Census Bureau is developing a database-driven access system that will provide access to current and historic data from each report using a single user interface. Users will be able to view the data and extract tables in a variety of formats.

  • Project – Instituting Data User Notifications  

What’s New – E-mail alerts to data users when reports have been issued
The publications of the 2007 Economic Census include more than 2,000 separate files covering 18 sectors, 1,000 industries, 50 states and the District of Columbia, 5 Island Areas, and myriad special topics, issued over a period of more than two years. Data users interested in a particular data set have been frustrated by the uncertain timing of its publication. The NotifyMe service, initiated in April 2009, addressed this uncertainty by allowing data users to sign up to receive an e-mail notification when individual reports in the Industry Series and Geographic Area Series are released. More than 20,000 reports have been requested via this system.
NotifyMe has been expanded to include additional Economic Census reports series, including the Survey of Business Owners. In the future, Commerce would like to further increase the scope of NotifyMe to allow e-mail notifications for additional Census Bureau surveys.
More information can be found at http://www.census.gov/notifyme.

  • Project – Publishing Automated Export Systems (AES) Best Practices Online

What’s New – Best Practices manual helps exporters comply with export regulations
The AES Best Practices Manual shares with AES filers a variety of methods that can be implemented to stay compliant with the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) reporting requirements. The content of the Manual ranges from suggestions on training material and training staff to export checklists, technical documentation references, and links to other government agency resources. The Manual also provides several excellent examples of best practices that could assist exporting companies in meeting the FTR compliance standards. The best practices were obtained from visits to AES filers that maintained a compliance rate greater than 95 percent. The Manual is revised and updated as regulatory changes occur.
More information can be found at http://www.census.gov/foriegn-trade/aes.

  • Project – Implementing Local Employment Dynamics (LED)Program

What’s New – Revolutionary new approach to analyze and understand socioeconomic data
LED is a voluntary partnership between state labor market information agencies and the Census Bureau to develop new information about local labor market conditions. LED uses modern statistical and computing techniques to combine federal and state administrative data on employers and employees with core Census Bureau censuses and surveys while protecting the confidentiality of people and firms that provide the data. It includes the Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI), a set of economic indicators (including employment, job creation, wages, and worker turnover) that can be queried by different levels of geography (state, county, metropolitan, and workforce investment area) and by industry, gender, and age of workers. LED and QWI provide powerful tools and entirely new ways to explore, analyze, and understand the American economy.
LED has reached a milestone as it now includes all 50 states. The scope of the data sets is also being expanded to include non-employer businesses and civilian employees of the Federal Government.
More information can be found at http://lehd.did.census.gov/led.

  • Project – Improving LED Data Visualization

What’s New – Presentation tools improve understanding and use of Census Bureau data
Data visualization tools have emerged as important new ways to present statistical information to make it more understandable for data users. The Census Bureau’s LED program has pioneered this effort with its OnTheMap tool that graphically illustrates the relationship between jobs and workplace on user defined maps. Plans are being developed to introduce new data visualization tools that illuminate time series data.
More information can be found at http://lehdmap4.did.census.gov/themap4/.

  • Project – Modernizing Business HelpSite  

What’s New – Online assistance for business respondents
The Census Bureau introduced the Business HelpSite (BHS) to provide information to aid businesses in completing census and survey questionnaires. BHS includes “frequently asked questions,” access to regulations, online services such as form remails and time extensions, and other types of assistance. A Secure Message Center allows respondents to communicate with the Census Bureau electronically via secure e-mail.
BHS is being redesigned to modernize its look, feel, and functionality, and to improve its effectiveness in providing assistance to data providers.
More information can be found at http://www.census.gov/econhelp.

  • Project – Re-engineering State and Local Governments Statistical Programs and Improving Data Presentations

What’s New – Improved integration of census and current governments programs, and improved data presentations
Based on extensive consultation with public and private sector data users in a series of workshops, the Census Bureau is re-engineering the government’s statistics programs. The effect will be better integration of the Census of Governments with associated annual and quarterly tax, finance, and employment surveys. In addition, tabulations will be improved to better address data user needs. Several improvements already have been introduced, including:

  • summary briefs, issued quarterly, covering government finance, revenue, and taxes;
  • for the 2012 Census of Governments, Commerce will provide additional data on city and county finance and employment; and
  • a national map of local governments. This summer, Commerce will publish a graphical summary report of the 2007 Census of Governments.

More information can be found at http://harvester.census.gov/duw/.

  • Project – Adding Web-based Learning Tools to Improve Access to Economic Programs

What’s New – On-line resources improve understanding of Census Bureau data and programs
The Census Bureau’s Economic Programs incorporate vast, complex topics and employ dissemination and collection tools that require some sophistication on the parts of the data user and respondent. New Web-based tools make it easier to understand and use the data and comply with regulations.

  • Social Media – The Foreign Trade Division has introduced a blog to show how to find and use trade data, submit accurate reports, and comply with trade regulations. The blog is updated three times a week and has over 17,000 users (http://blogs.census.gov/globalreach/).

International Trade Administration (ITA)

  • Project – Improving Online Access to Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Results Database

What’s New – Improving public access to tariff and trade data resulting from U.S. FTA negotiations
ITA is developing a new way for the public to view tariff information and trade statistics for industrial goods under the various FTAs. Currently, the FTA tariff rates for the United States and its FTA partners are available only as large documents appended to the legal texts of the agreements. It is difficult for U.S. exporters and importers to use these documents to determine current and future tariff rates under the agreements. Additionally, users are currently unable to analyze how the FTAs affect various product groups or sectors.Finally, users who currently wish to examine trade flows with FTA partners must obtain trade data from multiple Web sites hosted by various U.S. agencies.
ITA’s FTA Results Database will combine tariff and trade data into a simple and easy-to-search public interface. Using the Database, users will be able to see how U.S. and FTA partner tariffs on individual products—searchable by keyword or tariff code—are treated under an agreement. U.S. importers and exporters will be able to see the current tariff and future tariffs applied to their products, as well as the date on which those products become duty-free. By combining sector and product groups, trade data, and the tariff elimination schedules, users will also be able to quickly analyze how various key sectors are treated under recently concluded FTAs. The Database will allow the users to quickly identify the share of trade or the share of tariff lines that fall within the various tariff elimination baskets. Users will also be able to compare how particular sectors were treated across various FTAs. The development of this project will be on-going, as future FTAs will be added to the Database and trade data is updated annually. The Database will be available by the second half of 2010.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

  • Project – Improving Dissemination of Basic Research Results via Web and Social Media

What’s New – Tagging content to ease search, simplifying public feedback process
As part of an effort to more broadly disseminate its research results, NIST will implement a new Web site design based on a content management system. This system includes access to an improved database of research papers authored or co-authored by NIST researchers. Content posted on the new Web site will be “tagged” by topic, enabling the public to subscribe to receive new information posted on the Web site on specific topics of interest such as nanotechnology or energy-related research. The new Web site will also allow members of the public to comment or ask questions about posted research articles and to easily share content from the NIST site with their own Web sites. NIST has recently created YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter sites as well. To ensure that as many people as possible benefit from NIST’s work, news of major research results posted on the new NIST Web site will be routinely announced through these additional social media sites.

  • Project – Improving Access to the Digital Data Repository of NIST Collections, including Publications, Artifacts, and Photographs Relating to Measurement Science

What’s New – Using Open Archives Protocol to allow automatic harvesting by major search engines and research repositories
Currently, information regarding NIST’s publications is electronically available through its Research Library’s online catalog, which includes links to the full text of many publications. Information about some of the objects in NIST’s museum is also available through the NIST Virtual Museum. The online catalog and the NVM are available to the public.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, NIST will implement a digital library repository. This repository will conform to the latest library and publishing metadata standards to enhance the ability of other scholarly and research repositories to discover and harvest information. The repository will contain the full text of NIST’s technical publications, including the Journal of Research, as well as images of and information about historical scientific objects that it maintains. The metadata will conform to the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, which is the accepted standard within scholarly and scientific communities for making the contents of information collections available to researchers. File formats will adhere to Government Printing Office, Library of Congress, and NARA preservation requirements. The repository will permit the digital forms of NIST’s technical publications and other content to be easily searchable by the public through major Internet search engines, such as Google, Google Books, Google Scholar, WorldCat, and Yahoo. This will significantly enhance publication and distribution of NIST’s research results.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Project – Modernizing the NOAA Climate Database

What’s New – Digitizing data from weather stations collected in the 18th and 19th centuries
The Climate Data Modernization Program (CDMP) supports NOAA’s responsibility to collect, integrate, assimilate and effectively manage Earth observations on a global scale, ranging from atmospheric, weather, and climate observations to oceanic, coastal, and marine life observations. Many of these data were originally recorded on paper, film, and other fragile media. Prior to CDMP, not only were these valuable data sources mostly unavailable to the scientific community, but storage technology for the archive had become obsolete. Today, CDMP has greatly improved the preservation of and access to NOAA’s holdings by migrating many of these resources to new digital media. CDMP has placed online over 53 million weather and environmental images that are now available to researchers around the world via the Internet. The amount of data online has grown from 1.75 terabytes in 2001 to over 11 terabytes in 2009. Hourly weather records digitized through CDMP continue to be integrated into NOAA’s digital database holdings, extending the period of record for many stations back into the 1890’s. Additional daily data records digitized through the CDMP will extend this data period back to the 18th century for several weather stations.

  • Project – Improving Access to Severe Weather Data Inventory (SWDI)

What’s New – Simplified access to current and past information about severe weather incidents
The SWDI at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) provides users access to archives of several data sets critical to the detection and evaluation of severe weather. These data sets include:

  • Next Generation Radar – or NEXRAD – Level-III point features describing general storm structure, hail, mesocyclone and tornado signatures,
  • NWS local storm reports collected from storm spotters,
  • NWS warnings, and
  • Lightning strikes from Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network.

SWDI archives these data sets in a spatial database that permits convenient searching. These data are accessible via the NCDC Web site, FTP or automated Web services. The results of interactive Google Maps-based Web page queries may be saved in a variety of formats, including plain text, XML, Google Earth’s KMZ, and Shapefile. Summary statistics, such as daily counts, allow efficient discovery of severe weather events. More information may be obtained at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/swdi.

  • Project – Upgrading Ocean Surface Current Simulator

What’s New – Upgrading the ability to visualize changes in ocean surface currents
The Ocean Surface Current Simulator (OSCURS) numerical model is a research tool that allows oceanographers and fisheries scientists to perform retrospective analyses of daily ocean surface currents anywhere in an ocean-wide grid of 90 km cells that stretches from Baja California to China and from 10 degrees north of the equator to the Bering Strait. This model is used to measure the movement of surface currents over time, as well as the movement of what is in or on the water. Ocean surface currents affect organisms suspended in the water column – such as fish eggs, small larvae, and plankton – and may affect their survival by determining their location after a few months of drift. Even swimming or migrating fish or mammals may have their destinations significantly offset by currents or the annual variability of currents. OSCURS has gained visibility as an accidental debris tracker to analyze accidental but fortuitous at-sea events beyond the scale of normal oceanographic science. Investigations of events such as spills of cargo containers loaded with plastic bathtub toys have been used to fine-tune the OSCURS model.
The model has been served for many years by a Live Access Server (LAS) at NOAA and has been used heavily. However, LAS requires the outdated Netscape browser and only allows the user to visualize and download one OSCURS run at a time. Data serving technology has greatly improved, and NOAA is developing a new interface to serve the OSCURS model (http://las.pfeg.noaa.gov/oscurs) that uses Google Maps as the visualization tool and the latest in AJAX technology to improve users’ experience. Users will be able to visualize many runs at a time and possibly view other relevant environmental data using the same interface. This project should be ready for public use by the end of calendar year 2010.

  • Project – Instituting Online Access to Regional Data in Partnership with the San Francisco Exploratorium

What’s New – Near real-time ability to visualize weather and water conditions in San Francisco Bay
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is developing a new way to visualize regional data in the San Francisco Bay (http://las.pfeg.noaa.gov/SFBay). Data from shore stations, buoys, high-frequency radar, and satellites are available, but scattered among many Web pages and stored in many formats. It is difficult for regional and public interests in the San Francisco Bay area to visualize and use this system to assess real-time conditions.
As a demonstration tool to support NOAA’s new partnership with the renowned science museum, the Exploratorium, and in collaboration with the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System and other regional data providers, NOAA is developing a Web page to make it easy to visualize near-real time data in San Francisco Bay. The interface will use Google Maps and the latest AJAX technology to combine and compare data from diverse sources. Users will be able to visualize water temperature, salinity, and other station-based measurements along with overlays of satellite measurements of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and radar measurements of currents. Users will also be able to compare time series of measurements from various stations and sources. Model data and animation will be added as they become available.
A public version of the project will be ready by the end of 2010, and will be continually enhanced with new data as they become available.

  • Project – Improving U.S. Drought Portal with Addition of Soil Moisture Observation Data

What’s New – Making public for the first time soil moisture observation data
Timely recognition of drought risks depends on the ability to monitor and forecast the diverse physical indicators of climatological drought, as well as relevant economic, social, and environmental impacts. A 2004 report from the Western Governors’ Association makes it clear that recent and ongoing droughts underscore the critical need for a coordinated, integrated drought monitoring, forecasting, and early warning information system. To fill this need, Congress passed the National Integrated Drought Information System Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-430) (NIDIS). The first component of NIDIS is the Drought Portal (http://www.drought.gov), which is part of an interactive system to:

  • Provide early warning about emerging and anticipated droughts,
  • Assimilate and control the quality of data about droughts and models,
  • Provide information about the risk and impacts of droughts to different agencies and stakeholders,
  • Provide information about past droughts in order to compare them with and to better understand current conditions,
  • Explain how to plan for and manage the impacts of droughts, and
  • Provide a forum for different stakeholders to discuss drought-related issues.

During the first quarter of FY 2010, the Drought Portal was expanded to include soil moisture observation data from the U.S. Climate Reference Network, which had not been previously available to the public.

  • Project – Providing Online Access to Historical Climate Data Through Historical Climate Reanalysis Project

What’s New – Re-launching and expanding access to data sets describing past weather
The Historical Climate Reanalysis Project uses a three-dimensional globally-complete climate model and available weather observations to produce output fields of weather variables measured four times daily from 1871, to the present. Using what are often, especially in earlier years, sparse data sets of observations, the Project is able to reconstruct past weather and fill in missing data values around the rest of the globe. These data will be available through a number of different types of Web-based, interactive plotting pages as well as file download. In addition to generating plots, users will be able to conduct basic analyses of data, download subsets of data, and obtain data in Google Earth format, which will permit easy visualization by the general public using the Google Earth application.
Currently, the data are available at the Physical Sciences Division of NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory only in “grib” format, which is difficult to read and not available for online plotting and analysis. The complete dataset itself is well over four terabytes, so examining even portions of it requires enormous storage space and computing resources.
By enabling the public to work with the data and data products online, NOAA will allow users to examine past weather and climate events in a detailed way never before possible. Version 1 of the Project is available today at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/20thC Rean/. However, it spans only the years 1908 through 1958 and does not include the interactive plotting tools described above. NOAA expects Version 2 to include data for 1891, to the present, provide online plotting and analysis tools, and be available online during the second quarter of calendar year 2010.

  • Project – Establishing NOAA Climate Services Portal

What’s New – Enhanced Access to NOAA Climate Information
NOAA is enhancing its climate information Web presence in response to customer requirements, emerging needs for improved decision-making capabilities across all sectors of society facing impacts from climate variability and change, and the value of leveraging climate data and services to support research and public education. NOAA has initiated development of a NOAA Climate Services Portal (NCS Portal) with the goal to become the “go-to” Web site for NOAA’s climate data, products, and services for all users. The NCS portal is currently available as a prototype, which only scratches the surface of the many climate datasets, products, and services available across NOAA. The prototype highlights some of most popular datasets and products based on customer usage of the data, focused on several datasets and products from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Coastal Services Center, and Climate Prediction Center, among others. NOAA plans to gather user feedback through focus groups, usability studies, and informal communications. Over the next several years, NOAA will expand the NCS Portal’s scope and functionality in a user-driven manner to enhance the access to, and extensibility of, climate data and services, timely articles and information, education resources, and tools for engagement and decision-making.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

NTIA is embarking on a series of data collection and dissemination initiatives to provide a more detailed, quantitative understanding of broadband Internet access and use in the United States. This information will inform efforts to increase broadband access and adoption, thereby supporting economic growth. Initiatives will include data collected through NTIA’s broadband mapping program and a new broadband-related survey.

  • Project – Creating a National Broadband Map

What’s New – National, interactive map showing broadband availability and speeds
Through its State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NTIA awards financial assistance grants for broadband data collection and planning. Data will be displayed in NTIA’s national broadband map, which will be made publicly available by March 2011. The map will display the geographic areas where broadband service is available and its speed, as well as the technology by which it is provided, and its availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings. The national map will be interactive and searchable by address, and will identify broadband service providers by census block or street segment. Data collection began in 2009 and will continue to take place semiannually between now and 2011. Data will be presented in a clear, accessible, and open format to the public, government, and research community. This new initiative will provide broadband information at an unprecedented level of comprehensiveness and granularity.

  • Project – Establishing Online Access to Results of Broadband Survey

What’s New – Resuming use of the Census Bureau’s periodic Current Population Survey to study Internet usage
Working with the Census Bureau, NTIA launched a 75,000-household Internet-use survey via the October 2009 Current Population Survey. Through this effort, NTIA will examine why people do not use high-speed Internet service and explore differences in Internet usage patterns around the country and across socio-economic groups. NTIA intends to release data in open, Web-based formats and to make the survey instruments and associated reports as widely available as possible.
National Technical Information Service (NTIS)

  • Project – Making Five Years of Bibliographic Data Searchable

What’s New – Making 180,000 records describing federal reports available in XML format
NTIS is making the latest five years of the NTIS Bibliographic File searchable via Data.gov. The file contains over 180,000 bibliographic records that link to a Web-store of federally funded technical reports from a broad spectrum of federal agencies. This bibliographic file is being made available through Data.gov in a compiled XML format, which will – for the first time – fully open access to NTIS’ technical reports collection to Web exposure and extraction. NTIS will measure the effect of increased exposure via Data.gov by comparing future ordering information to existing baseline data. The increased exposure of scientific and technical content will be a significant step forward in opening public access to a valuable collection that has heretofore had limited library and commercial vendor availability.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

  • Project Name – Providing Online Access to Patent Maintenance Fee Events Data

What’s New – Making fee data available in machine-readable form for the first time
During the first quarter of FY 2010, USPTOmet an expressed public need for data by making available a new machine-readable online product: Patent Maintenance Fee Events, a record ofpatent maintenance payments, expired patents, and related transactions.Patent maintenance fee information had been previously available only through interactive patent application retrieval from USPTO’s Public Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) System. This data had been frequently requested by USPTO’s data customers and is the first machine-readable, raw data made available from the Public PAIR system.

  • Project – Expanding Patent Bibliographic Data

What’s New – Expanding online availability of bibliographic information on past patent grants and applications
Also during the first quarter of FY 2010, USPTO made available more bibliographic information for patent grants issued from September 1996 through December 2008, and patent applications submitted from mid-March 2001 through December 2008. These data expanded the current USPTO dataset offerings on Data.gov.

  • Project – Enhancing USPTO Data Capabilities Available to the Public

What’s New – Providing free Full Text and Images of all U.S. Patents
USPTO is now making all patents, published patent applications, and related materials more easily available to the public online. With intellectual property-based businesses estimated to contribute nearly 40 percent of growth achieved by all U.S. private industry, the impact on jobs and the economy of more patent transparency should be significant. As a step toward improved access to patent information, this data is now available for free download from Google, Inc.

Office of the Secretary

  • Project – Publishing Schedule Data for Secretary Online

What’s new – Regularly updated, searchable feed of the Secretary’s public schedule
The Office of Public Affairs, in conjunction with the Offices of Scheduling and Business Liaison, now releases the Commerce Secretary’s public schedule on a daily basis. Commerce intends for this data to be as readable and as complete as possible. It is currently examining options for dealing with technical and managerial hurdles involved in regularly releasing this data, but plans to begin posting it on Commerce.gov and Data.gov by the end of 2010.

  • Project – Expanding Video Streaming for More Commerce Meetings

What’s new – Expanded availability of Commerce meetings via the Web
One of the more widely requested methods of being more transparent involves streaming video of appropriate Commerce meetings for public viewing. While it would be prohibitively expensive to provide video access to all meetings that occur at Commerce on any given day, it is important to increase the extent to which streaming is currently employed. To do so, Commerce plans to meet core new media objectives relative to streaming meetings or events in 2011.

How Commerce will Identify and Publicly Release More Information

Effective data sharing requires high standards for information accuracy, integrity and quality. To provide consistency across government, practice and communities of interest are reviewing existing standards and establishing inter-agency best practices to encourage a well-defined, active information dissemination environment.
Through its involvement, Commerce will emphasize the following:

  • Information Quality – All data published by Commerce is subject to rigorous checks that maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information. Details on the information quality guidelines can be found on the Commerce CIO Web site.
  • Federal Spending Information – The CFO/ASA serves as the senior official responsible for the integrity of Commerce-related data posted to the USASpending.gov Web site. The Department’s grants are timely and comprehensively reported through USASpending.gov as reflected in the “green” ratings that Commerce has consistently earned from 2007 to the present. A formal process has been established to ensure that all grant offices are reporting in a timely manner and implementing a formalized data content oversight program. For contracts, the Department regularly conducts an independent validation and verification of data recorded in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) each quarter. Feedback on the results of those reviews is provided to the operating units. Quality control for non-Recovery Act transactions has been further strengthened by processes developed for reporting under the Recovery Act. Commerce continues to meet all requirements for publishing spending information on this Web site and is an active participant in planning for its expansion.

The Recovery Act requires recipients of funds to report quarterly on how money is being spent. All data is posted at http://www.recovery.gov and http://recovery.commerce.gov so the public can monitor Recovery Act efforts. Other reporting requirements include posting program plans and performance metrics, weekly updates on financial status and major activities, notices of all funding announcements, and notifications of press releases and other public information about Recovery Act-related activities.
To develop processes, procedures and policies for complying with the Recovery Act and all related guidance, Commerce formed several interlocking intra-agency working groups in March 2009. Taking direction from OMB guidance, it created a team to implement the Recovery Act and report in as transparent a manner as possible. All reporting requirements are being met. Commerce has complied with all OMB guidance, timelines and milestones and, in many cases, has played a leading role in government-wide working groups to improve timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness in reporting on Recovery Act activities.

  • Citation – Commerce will explore best practices for citing published data to make reference data easier to locate for end-users. This will assist in establishing the context needed to fully understand the meaning of published data.
  • Intergovernmental Working Groups – The government-wide Open Government Working Group has created cross-agency groups to examine data sets that would support health and green energy communities of practice. At Commerce’s suggestion, an additional group has been established to identify information and data sets to support job creation. This group is chaired by Commerce and focuses on data and resources across government. As a model, it uses NWS data, which has created an entire industry based on its machine readable formats.
  • SecurityCommerce is using its POCs to verify that information being published poses no security risk once it is released to the public.
  • Privacy Commerce is also relying on its POCs to verify that information being published does not pose a risk of personally identifiable information being released.