The US House of Representatives has proposed slashing the FY11 budget for open data from $34 million to $2 million, effectively shutting down sites like Data.gov and USASpending.gov.
Open government data is crucial to our work at National Priorities Project, and we’re in a position to give these numbers some context. Although $32 million may sound like a vast sum of money, it is actually .0009% of the proposed Federal FY11 budget.
A percentage that small does not represent a true cost-saving initiative—it represents an effort to use the budget and the economic crisis to promote policy change.
What exactly is $32 million?
- It’s the amount our Federal government spends in less than 5 minutes
- It’s less than the Pentagon-cited cost of replacing one Apache helicopter ($35.5m)
- It’s 7.7% of the total amount spent processing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in FY10
And $32 million is the amount the government can use to expand and improve their open data initiatives, giving taxpayers access to their information. The information they’ve already paid for. The information that saves money. The information that is already fueling innovative and job-creating ecosystems. And the information that facilitates transparency, the fundamental element of any democracy.