Aligned to goals:
- 1.2: Make more data and information available to the public.
- 1.4: Increase the transparency of the grant application and award process.
- 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department's website about Department offices and key programs.
- 1.6: Foster more transparency in the larger educational community.
Data.ed.gov is part of the Department of Education's (ED) Open Government initiative to make high-value data sets publicly available in user-friendly, machine-readable formats. Data.ed.gov organizes, makes accessible, and highlights data from ED's diverse set of programs. It will serve as a one-stop shop for education data, allowing practitioners, researchers, and the public to access data that can inform their work in classrooms and communities across America.
The open grantmaking section of Data.ed.gov is what distinguishes it from the Data.gov project that provides a library of data sets from across the federal government. Data.ed.gov adds tools to help users understand data associated with ED grant programs and other information collections; analyze ED's investments to date; and view grant proposals that the Department has received. These tools will include charting and graphing, mapping of information, and filtering and sorting of grant applications. Data.ed.gov will allow the public to follow and evaluate the entire grantmaking process cycle, from intent to apply, to submission of applications, and to the announcement of grantees. The first competitive grant programs that will be available on this new website are the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) and Promise Neighborhoods. The available data sets will expand over time.
Summary of Key Functionalities of Data.ed.gov
Charting and Graphing
Data.ed.gov will include charting and graphing analysis tools that allow the public to understand broad trends in the data sets. For example, users may select a specific criterion or multiple criteriae.g., absolute priorities, grant types, and applicant typesand see how many applications meet those criteria.
The mapping function of the website will allow the public to see which initiatives are funded in their communities. Users will be able to view grant applications on a map with a Congressional district or school district overlay. Data.ed.gov will use MapBox, a fully configured, open-source, geospatial mapping tool that is available across the federal government
Filtering and Sorting
The end-users of data.ed.gov will also be able to sort and filter data from the application pool using several combinations of application criteria. For example, one could search for all LEA applicants in Seattle that applied under absolute priority two.
Users may export data sets directly from data.ed.gov, as they can from data.gov. However, users may export data sets that are filtered according to their selected criteria rather than exporting the entire data set.
Challenges to Resolve
ED's grant submission process poses challenges to the creation and release of data sets that meet ED's goal of increased openness and transparency. These challenges were highlighted during the Office of Innovation and Improvement's (OII) recent effort to process over 1,600 i3 applications, 50 percent of which had some component that had to be sent to a data center for processing. The following challenges must be addressed in order to meet ED's Open Government goals around transparency in an efficient manner:
- Standard OMB approved, government application forms (SF-424 and SF-524) cannot be customized.
- GAPS/G5 does not offer a mechanism to collect supplemental information in a standardized format:
Without the use of supplemental forms, each application must be manually parsed to identify information, such as partners, project locations, etc.
Using simple Web-forms as part of the application, while not currently standard, allows live data validation and reduces clean-up at the back end of the process
Planned Next Steps
- Develop a budget for ongoing development and scaling.
- Develop a process for responding to public feedback and implementing recommendations.
- Identify internal resources (e.g., personnel, technology) necessary for ongoing support.
- Develop a system for identifying grant competitions and/or data sets to profile on data.ed.gov.
- Research and propose solutions for better supplemental information collection.