Happy Birthday Open Government (or Maybe Not)

The White House blog hailed the one-year anniversary of the release of agency open government plans Wednesday as the levee break that brought a flood of federal information into the public domain.

The anniversary, though, came just days after a last-minute budget deal that slashed funding for open government initiatives by more than 75 percent and could imperil the initiative's progress.

The reduction in the Electronic Government Fund from a proposed $35 million to $8 million was part of a deal struck by leaders of the Republican-led House and the Democratically-controlled Senate late Friday to avert a government shutdown.

The e-government fund supports, among other things, the data.gov website, which the White House praised Wednesday for publishing nearly 380,000 government data sets since it was launched in May 2009. Those federally-collected datasets cover everything from employment and climate change statistics to photos from studies of kelp canopies off the California coast.

In keeping with the heated fiscal debate, the White House also portrayed its open government initiative as a job creator, citing a 30-employee financial information firm, which it said was launched largely around analysis of federal data releases about retirement plan investments.