Tim Berners-Lee tweets for transparency

Among those who have officially joined the federal budget debate is Tim Berners-Lee, the person who invented the World Wide Web.

Berners-Lee, in a tweet, urged his followers to support the Sunlight Foundation's effort to protect government transparency programs from federal budget cuts, including USASpending.gov, the IT Dashboard, and Data.gov. About 2,200 have signed a letter opposing the cuts.

This isn't just about transparency. The government puts this data in machine readable formats, which is then used by commercial developers for apps sold via iTunes and the Android marketplace as well as by BI and research firms.

Daniel Schuman, a policy counsel for the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for government transparency, said the programs were initially funded at $34 million, which was later reduced to $2 million. The latest proposal has raised this to $17 million. More on this later.

Schuman isn't certain what could disappear. He expects the Obama administration to protect USAspending.gov and Data.gov, but less visible efforts may get axed, such as FedSpace, a social media project for federal workers designed to promote interagency cooperation.

The cuts could also kill efforts make the surviving sites more useful, such as improving spending analysis tools.

The cuts are a little surprising. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform just held a hearing on the Obama's administration transparency efforts.  Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee chairman, called government transparency "the most important issue of this committee in the long run."

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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