screen-shot-2013-03-11-at-22344-pm-4663700Governor Cuomo today marked Sunshine Week by launching Open New York, a really cool portal for finding government data online — without having to file a Freedom of Information Law request. The site launched with 267 data sets populating it.  That’s a respectable number, but a fraction of what could eventually be on the site.

In addition to being a home for state agency data (which will eventually be required based on an as-yet unreleased executive order), the new repository also is a shared resource for localities across the state, providing a place for those entities that choose to post data [read: encourage your local governments and school districts to start posting data ASAP]. In fact, Suffolk County has already posted spreadsheets of budget revenue and expenditures, including back years of data.

There is, of course, some more idiosyncratic data, like a file of degrees and other formal awards granted by SUNY since 1949. When it comes to making data available though, there is no wrong thing to post, and whatever effort is allocated to making data available should be allocated to making more data available, not deciding which data is useful.

The interface isn’t quite as nifty or easy to use as, say, our SeeThroughNY, but that isn’t what this is — and you won’t find us advocating for countless taxpayer dollars being spent on app development (No word from the governor on how much this new tool cost).

Kudos to the Governor for a job well done on this first step. It isn’t hard to see how we get from here to a place where New York’s governments truly are transparent.

About the Author

Tim Hoefer

Tim Hoefer is president & CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

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