USA Federal Government’s Dashboards – Reporting, Managing or Improving?

July 2, 2009
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I recently glanced at two websites published by the USA Federal government that display information about its “major” information technology investments and other data. The Office of Management and Budget produces the IT Dashboard website. The General Services Administration hosts the Data.gov website that was created by the Federal CIO Council, as a USA Federal government interagency initiative.

These are good examples of governments, at any level, providing transparency and visibility – buzzwords associated with rise in accountability happening with all organizations.

If you can take the time to play around with some of the graphs in these websites, there are all sorts of computer software visualization features. The staffs who created these websites are likely having lots of fun (plus some headaches collecting late data) with leveraging software tools to display data.

My one concern involves understanding where the usefulness of this reported information is relative to my personal test that I described in my “What? So what? Then what?” blog. These websites do a nice job answering the first question. And this effort is very noble, so I do not want to create rain on


I recently glanced at two websites published by the USA Federal government that display information about its “major” information technology investments and other data. The Office of Management and Budget produces the IT Dashboard website. The General Services Administration hosts the Data.gov website that was created by the Federal CIO Council, as a USA Federal government interagency initiative.

These are good examples of governments, at any level, providing transparency and visibility – buzzwords associated with rise in accountability happening with all organizations.

If you can take the time to play around with some of the graphs in these websites, there are all sorts of computer software visualization features. The staffs who created these websites are likely having lots of fun (plus some headaches collecting late data) with leveraging software tools to display data.

My one concern involves understanding where the usefulness of this reported information is relative to my personal test that I described in my “What? So what? Then what?” blog. These websites do a nice job answering the first question. And this effort is very noble, so I do not want to create rain on this parade. My excitement will grow higher when a reader of this reported information can more quickly make sense of it.

That is, my excitement will grow when the second and third questions from my earlier blog can also be answered. For example, what IT projects are running behind? Which ones are in trouble? Which ones truly align with citizen interests from polling and surveys? Which of these IT investments are arguably pork barrel ones?

Wouldn’t you prefer that answers to questions like these and better ones literally “jump out of the screen” at you? This implies that these websites can gradually move up the stages of maturity ladder from just displaying business intelligence to providing Performance Management and improvement for true organizational transformation and higher yield of what is spent on IT to what is fairly received by citizens and stakeholders. Some of these types of business analytics tools are offered by my employer, SAS. My bet goes with these website creators. They are revealing innovation and zeal that inspires me that and I hope they won’t stop at the stage they are at now.

Am I too optimistic? What do you think?