Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Government Datasets Available on

The U.S. government recently unveiled its latest source of government-generated data at It was developed by the Federal CIO Council, and the website's stated purpose is "to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government." contains two catalogs: one for raw datasets and one for tools that allow you to manipulate the data. On the advanced search page, you can search for information by category (topic), agency, keyword, or file type (XML, CSV, KML, etc.). Search results are separated into two sections: one for raw datasets and one for tools. Your search results page will feature titles on the left, which link to helpful metadata pages (with thorough descriptions of the datasets or tools). On the right side of your results page you can find links to the actual datasets or tools. does not index a comprehensive collection of data just yet--At press time it featured a total of 261 raw datasets and 30 tools from 31 government agencies. The database's keyword search capabilities are quite limited--you can't use Boolean operators or search for phrases. We recommend that you just search by category, agency, or format until the keyword search functionality becomes more sophisticated.

Also note that you can't change the order in which your search results are sorted; they're arranged in alphabetical order, and you'll have to click the "View All" icon on the bottom-right of your results to expand your list.

Can't find the data you want? The metadata pages in the catalog seem particularly helpful, because they provide hyperlinks to the source agency for the data--so you know where to go for more information. Another nice feature of is its Datasets Rating function, which allows any user to rate the data (see an example here).

Enjoy exploring Additional government sources for statistics can be found in our guide.

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