A cornerstone of government transparency gets an overhaul

DIG IT AWARD FINALIST: OPEN DATA

A cornerstone of government transparency gets an overhaul

The seven-year-old federal IT Dashboard, a portal through which the public can see how the government handles its $83 billion IT portfolio, got some much-needed TLC last year.

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The dashboard didn't always align with government policy on information transparency, it was difficult to maintain, and it suffered from slow updates to the application programming interface, among other things. So the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) rebuilt the application, data platform and back-end architecture, and data handling.

As a result, the system has gone from four servers to one, which reduces maintenance costs, and the dashboard has taken on a RESTful web architecture with a responsive design for a variety of user devices.

An open-source technology stack that includes Apache, PHP, AngularJS, Twitter Bootstrap, SQL/MySQL and RESTful APIs gives authorized users programmatic access to any data available to them on the website. The dashboard also uses NoSQL data constructs in a central warehouse for better performance on data rendering and analytics.

In addition, the dashboard now boasts a user-centric design -- a welcome change, judging by the 60 percent increase in page views compared to the same time last year. It was also built with an eye on the future: The new system can support continuous modular capacity increases to adapt to evolving business needs.

The OCIO relied on agile development processes and an open dialogue with stakeholders to revamp the dashboard. That approach not only resulted in more features at launch, but it also produced a pipeline of additional enhancements planned for the future.

“Utilizing a user-centric design and simple yet powerful features, the IT Dashboard provides a robust view into federal IT investment spending in a more transparent, accessible and human-centered fashion,” said Sean Casey, OCIO’s chief of policy, budget and communications.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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