Labor app contests promote data accessibility

The Labor Department is sponsoring two application development contests, each with a prize of up to $35,000, to make its data more accessible and usable to the public.

Labor's Deputy Secretary Seth Harris announced the contests in a post on Labor's Work in Progress blog.

"Too many people are struggling to get their foot in the door on the job," Harris wrote. "Too many workers face unsafe or unhealthy workplaces. And too many workers fear what might happen if they speak up about back wages, overtime pay, or simply being treated fairly under the law. These are big challenges for our nation’s workers, and they require innovative ideas from all over the country to tackle them." 

He said that DOL agencies generate "mountains of data on enforcement actions, employment, unemployment, wages, and other topics" that could be useful for job seekers, workers seeking to better their skills, and "consumers who want to know that the businesses they use value safe, healthy, and fair workplaces. We know this data is valuable," Harris continued, "but we also know that we haven't thought of every way to put it in the hands of the American people -— at home, at the office, or on the go."

The two contests have been launched on www.challenge.gov. Winners will be those who develop the most innovative applications using DOL data already available to the public:

  • The Occupational Employment Statistics app challenge involves Bureau of Labor Statistics data; the challenge is to make it more accessible and actionable.
  • The informAction app challenge involves OSHA and Wage and Hour Division data. "We are looking for innovative ways to deliver this data that will increase public awareness of the laws enforced by DOL to ensure fair and safe workplaces. Consumers and workers should be able to view inspection and compliance information from the hotels, motels, restaurants and retail stores they shop at, and use it to take educated action," he explained.

Developers can find help at http://developer.dol.gov that will make it easier to incorporate DOL data into software thorough Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs). Submissions are due by Sept. 14.

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