I’ll present a short paper and lead some discussion on federal spending transparency today at an OMB Watch conference entitled “Strengthening Federal Spending Transparency: A Working Conference to Develop a Plan of Action.”
My paper is called “Federal Spending Transparency: Unlocking the Power of Abstraction.” It builds on lessons I learned from developing the Earmarkdata.org model aimed at getting earmark information out of Congress.
Information scientists will find the paper amateurish and riddled with imperfections. Policy people will find it obscure and dense. That’s what you get when you translate between two languages and cultures.
Each piece of the policy making process—the budgets, bills, votes, etc.—should originate as structured data, feeding directly into the information infrastructure that the transparency community creates. A budget should come out not just in paper and PDF versions, but as a data set containing all the meaning that exists in the physical documents.
Make sense? If not, you’ll want to get yourself to where it does.