U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra unveiled the new U.S. Federal IT Dashboard on Tuesday at the Personal Democracy Forum 2009 in New York City. The dashboard provides transparency into the U.S. government's $74 billion budget, allowing citizens to drill down into specific departments, view status information on projects, and compare spending over time and between departments.
Kunda said, "Now, for the first time, the entire country can look at how we're spending money and give us feedback... We're going to tap into some of the best ideas and the best thinking."
One of the most impressive things about this new site was that it was built in about six weeks. Before becoming federal CIO, Kundra led IT for Washington, D.C. and was known for using mashups and publicly available technologies to quickly and inexpensively get things accomplished. It's good to see that the federal bureaucracy hasn't bogged him down — at least not yet.
For IT leaders in the private sector, this project provides a great example of how to achieve a high-level of IT transparency within your company and shows how to promote IT to the company's leaders and stake holders.
Of course, this level of transparency also has its challenges. It forces a high level of accountability — which is a good thing but you better be ready for it — and it could lead some department heads to question why they don't get more attention from IT. But ultimately, if the lumbering U.S. federal government can create something like this in six weeks, then there's no excuse for enterprises not to be able to build something similar.
Another lesson that IT can take from Kundra's federal dashboard comes in the form of user education. The federal IT department created an eight-minute YouTube screencast that introduces the dashboard and its goals and shows how to use it:.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.