Now you can help fix USASpending.gov

Now you can help fix USASpending.gov

When the Treasury Department updated USASpending.gov on March 31, the sharply reduced search functionality was roundly criticized. Now a subsequent update has reinstated some of those capabilities, and a GitHub repository has been set up for those who would like to help troubleshoot and suggest additional improvements.

An April 8 update to the USASpending.gov site announced the new feedback channel on GitHub, and promised continued improvements to the advanced search functions and expanded data archives. 

The GitHub repository does not include the USASpending.gov source code, but uses the site's issue tracker to solicit feedback and bug reports and to document progress made in addressing them. On GovFresh, open government advocate Luke Fretwell called it "a great first step in that the federal government has created a formal channel for aggregating input from external stakeholders."

USASpending.gov has, since its 2007 launch, been both a poster child for government transparency and something of a problem project. Complaints about design shortcomings date back to at least 2009, and the site was found in both 2010 and 2013 to be missing hundreds of billions of dollars in spending data. Then in late 2014, the government chose to purchase the site and the underlying data system from contractor that built and maintained it, due to that firm's financial instability.

The Office of Management and Budget gave Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service ‚Äčoperational authority over USAspending.gov and tasked the agency with improving the site's usability, presentation and search functionalities. 

"Updating USAspending.gov has always been about making this tool as transparent and user friendly as possible," the April 8 site update declared, "and that means hearing directly from users about how to improve."

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