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GCN : November 2012
he federal government's ini- tiative to share more digital information with the public could come with a whopper of a fringe bene t: Better information sharing between agencies. The Obama administration's Digital Government Strategy, rolled out in May, is primarily seen as an effort to make it easier for indi- viduals to navigate government services and databases online, whether through desktop comput- ers or mobile devices. The basic underlying principle is that the federal government should be more customer- centric,according to the strategy. In designing systems and services, federal agencies should ensure that information is "accessible, cur- rent and accurate," wherever that customer might be. But although much of the early talk has focused on public-facing systems, the strategy assumes a broader de nition of "customer." "The customer-centric principle holds true whether our customers are internal (e.g., the civilian and military federal workforce in both classi ed and unclassi ed environ- ments) or external (e.g., individual citizens, businesses, research orga- nizations, and state, local, and tribal governments)," the plan states. In the long run, this customer- centric approach could be a boon for interagency information shar- ing. Traditional information-sharing initiatives have focused on devel- oping interfaces between speci c agency systems. The Digital Government Strategy moves agencies toward developing systems with information sharing in mind from Day One, in terms of both building public interfaces and developing the appropriate security and privacy protections. So although the strategy focuses on the bene ts to the general public, its major components are just as likely to bene t government "customers." For example, the plan directs agencies developing new systems to provide Web application pro- gramming interfaces that outside developers can use to create their own systems for tapping into the underlying data. Less than three months after the strategy's release, the Census Bu- reau came out with its rst public API, which allows developers to draw on the bureau's demographic, socioeconomic and housing data. Potential customers for this data might be a business exploring a particular market or federal, state or local government researchers studying larger population trends. The plan also puts an emphasis on providing access in the mobile environment --- what's come to be known as an anytime-anywhere- any device strategy. Agencies are required to "mobile- enable" at least two government services within 12 months, either starting with services currently not available online or optimizing exist- ing online services for the mobile world. From there, agencies are ex- pected to begin exploring new ways to leverage mobile and Web-based technologies to deliver information. The strategy recognizes that more and more people are access- ing the Web through smart phones and tablet PCs rather than person- al computers. By and large, federal agencies are behind the curve, but that is beginning to change with the advent of bring-your-own- device policies. Sponsored Report INFORMATION SHARING Digital Government: A Boon for Information Sharing? The federal government s Digital Government Strategy might focus on public interactions, but it could energize information-sharing initiatives among federal agencies. FULL REPORT ONLINE GCN.com/InformationSharing2 2. DOD lays the foundation for better sharing 3. Justice program emerges as info sharing model 4. ID Management: A promising new development 5. Time to get serious about information management Other Information Sharing Report Articles