On June 17, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new website, Data.ed.gov, which will increase access to education data. The site will ultimately serve as a one-stop shop where practitioners, researchers, and the public can access information about Department grant programs. Through the Web site and other initiatives, the Department will make the grantmaking process more transparent to the public by providing easily accessible data about applications as well as applicants and their partners. The site will protect applicants’ privacy and proprietary information.
The first competitive grant program featured on Data.ed.gov is the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), which received nearly 1,700 applications before the competition closed in May. The public can now view detailed information on all i3 applicants and run customized reports and summary analyses on subsets of applicants. The i3 data reflects the information that the Department received from applicants; it has not been reviewed for eligibility or otherwise modified by the Department. By offering this data, the Department is fulfilling President Obama’s promise to provide unprecedented transparency for programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“The public has the right to know more about the efforts we consider funding, what programs and projects we do fund, and what outcomes we are achieving with those efforts,” said Secretary Arne Duncan. “Data.ed.gov extends our commitment to transparency and provides additional tools that allow the public to analyze ED’s investments.”
Data.ed.gov is designed to be more user-friendly than traditional data sites by providing tools that allow users to visualize the data:
Charting and Graphing: Data.ed.gov includes charting and graphing tools that help the public understand general trends in the data sets. For example, users may select a specific criterion or multiple criteria—e.g. absolute priorities, grant types, and applicant types—and see how many applications meet those criteria.
Mapping: Data.ed.gov incorporates mapping to allow the public to see which initiatives are funded in their communities. Users can view grant applications on a map that includes the option of overlays by congressional districts, with additional overlays planned.
Filtering and Searching: Data.ed.gov lets users narrow the applications to only those of interest based on combinations of criteria. For example, a user could search for all LEA applicants in Texas that applied for grants to address a specific priority.
Data Exporting: Data.ed.gov allows users to export data sets in a file format that can be loaded easily into common spreadsheet and data analysis tools. Users may export either the entire data set or smaller sets that are filtered according to their selected criteria.
Because this is a pilot effort, the Department welcomes feedback on the site and plans to make improvements over time. By making the data on the site broadly available through the data exporting feature, the Department also hopes that the community of site users will develop new visualizations and analyses and share them.
Data.ed.gov is part of the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative. On his first full day in Office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, ushering in a new era of open and accountable government. On December 8, 2009, the White House issued an unprecedented Open Government Directive, requiring federal agencies to take immediate, specific steps to achieve key milestones in transparency, participation, and collaboration.