open government data

A New Type of Meet Up Event?

Come join us the day after Memorial day for a new type of Meet Up. In the past, Data Innovation DC and Data Community DC have brought in fascinating speakers discussing data products and services that have already been built or data sets that are now available for public consumption. This Tuesday, we are changing things up as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. Our goal is to have individuals and teams interested in building commercially viable data products attend and listen to experts strongly familiar with data problems that consumers of US Census data are having.  Simply put, we are trying to line up problems that other people (also known as potential customers) will pay to have them solved.  As a massive added bonus, if your team can put something together before the end of next weekend, you may be able to attract national-level press interest.

Some of the bios for our Tuesday Panelists are below. If you are interested in attending for free, please register here.

Andy Hait

Andrew W. Hait serves as the Data Product and Data User Liaison in the Economic Planning and Coordination Division at the U.S. Census Bureau.  With over 26 years of service at the Bureau, Andy oversees the data products and tools and coordinates data user training for the Economic Census and the Census Bureaus other economic survey programs. He also is the lead geographic specialist in the Economic Programs directorate.  Andy is the Census Bureau’s inside man for understanding our customer’s needs.

Judith Johnson (Remote)

Judith K. Johnson joins us from the Small Business Administration-funded Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) National Information Clearinghouse to as Lead Librarian. She monitors daily incoming operations, provide business information research and review completed research by staff before distribution to SBDC advisors located nationwide.  Ms. Johnson’s also provides preliminary patent or trademark searches and trains staff and SBDC advisors.  She comes to the panel with a strong handle on entrepreneur / business owner data needs.

Matthew Earls,

M.U.R.P., is a GIS Analyst at Carson Research Consulting (CRC). His work primarily revolves around the Baltimore DataMind. Mr. Earls is also responsible for managing social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) for the DataMind as well as the DataMind blog. He provides assistance with data visualization and mapping for other CRC projects as needed.

Dr. Taj Carson

The CEO and founder of Carson Research Consulting (CRC), a research and evaluation firm based in Baltimore. Dr. Carson has been working in the field of evaluation since 1997 and specializes in research and evaluation that can be used to improve organizations and program performance. She is also the creator and driving force behind the Baltimore DataMind, an interactive online mapping tool that allows users to visualize various socio-economic data for the Baltimore city at the neighborhood level.

Kim Pierson (remote)

Kim Pierson is a Senior Data Analyst with ProvPlan in Providence, Rhode Island. She has 6 years of experience in data analysis, geospatial information, and data visualization.  She works with community organizations, non-profits, government agencies, and national organizations to transform data into information that supports better decision making, strengthens communities, and a promotes a more informed populace.  She specializes in urban-data analysis including demographic, education, health, public safety, and Census data. She has worked on web-based data and mapping applications including the RI Community Profiles, RI DataHUB, and ArcGIS Viewer for Flex applications. She holds a M.A. degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois.


US Government Contracting: Year 2013 Infographic by GovTribe

Below is a guest post and infographic from GovTribe, a DC startup that creates products that turn open government data into useful and understandable information. The hōrd iPhone app by GovTribe lets you understand the world of government contracting in real time.


Our latest release, hōrd 2.0, has way more data than our initial release. We spent the last six months building a completely new approach for consuming, processing, and making sense of government data from multiple sources. The iPhone app now provides insight and capability not available anywhere else. Our efforts have also given us pretty robust visibility into how the government behaves and where it allocates its resources. So we thought we'd share.

This post is the first in a series that GovTribe plans to publish. Our purpose is to find some signal in all that noisy data, and to provide some clear, interesting, and maybe even useful information about the world of federal government contracting.

We thought a good place to start, with just over a month left in fiscal year 2013, was a look back at what's been happening since October 1, 2012. Soon to come: Agency Insight. In this series we'll take a deeper look at individual agency activity. Stay tuned - and feedback is always appreciated.

GovTribe FY13 in Review

Building a Business on Open Government Data

hordThis is a guest post featuring an impressive data-oriented startup in the DC Area. GovTribe is a small, DC-area startup with a big goal: we want to impact the world of federal government contracting through smart, accessible technology. While perhaps not the sexiest of industries to focus on, government contracting is a roughly $500 billion market. Supported by woefully antiquated (and bafflingly expensive) technology, it also relies heavily on open government data. To us, this creates an environment primed for disruption. Given current trends in data-driven decision-making and technology consumerization, how could such a market remain unchallenged by scrappy startups like us?

The founders of GovTribe spent nearly a decade in the business of federal government contract services. Working for a big four management consulting firm, we toiled away in the daily pursuit and execution of government contracts. Our experiences, both bad and good, helped to inform our first product: hord.  In short, the hord iPhone app provides an easy, affordable, and portable method for quickly understanding what is happening in the world of government contracting. We move beyond the walled gardens of protected email distribution lists and expensive websites. With contract data from 130 federal agencies, hōrd enables users to subscribe to real time government contract activity feeds. And we make all of this natively available on a mobile device for the first time.

In order to deliver this service, we mine and process a significant amount of open government data from multiple sources. Through a combination of proprietary code, helpful third-party services, and incalculable hours in an Arlington, VA basement we parsed and added value to free, publicly available government data. And response from the industry is good.

GovTribe recently attended a Meetup hosted by Data Innovation DC that focused on creating value from government data. It was great to hear from other entrepreneurs also proceeding into the open data market. They're taking the leap that value can be delivered on top of free government data, and that viable business models can be developed around that concept. As the collective open government data set continues to grow, this trend will and must continue. In light of this, we thought we'd share a few lessons that informed our product vision and market approach.

  • The Data is Secondary to the Problem Being Solved. A lot of government data has been made public. Now what? How can it be incorporated into current decision-making or processes? What new activities can be enabled or feats accomplished that were not possible before? Simple access to the data, even with the slickest of interfaces, will be of little use to the majority of consumers. Action-oriented services supported by open government data is where the real value lies. What problems do you want to address?
  • Customers Don’t Care That You Mine Open Government Data. Save the “built on open government data” pitch for the VCs. Customers only care about how your product makes their lives easier and more efficient. Early on, the open government data angle was a significant aspect of our branding. We were proud of our accomplishments in the challenging world of semi-structured and unstructured data and thought our customers would care. They didn't, so much.
  • You Don’t Have to Be a Data Scientist Or Programmer to Do This. Perhaps you have an interesting idea that could be brought to life by remixing open government data but don't consider yourself to be a developer or a data wonk. Some might see this as a reason to shelve that idea and go back to watching season two of Game of Thrones (again).  Fear not. The amount of freely available online resources, technologies, and machine-readable (trust us, this matters) data sources grows exponentially by the day. Sure, the learning curve may seem a bit steep, but with a bit of work and persistence anyone can get into the game. And frankly, there's plenty of room on the field.

GovTribe has big plans and it includes going deeper into the data. We will soon be looking for folks who are interested in data science, software development, and the promise of open government data.  If you are interested in what we do and want to learn more, drop us a line over your favorite social media platform or send us an email at We believe there is a bright future ahead for the data community writ large and are doing our best to be a part of it.


GovTribe is an Arlington, Virginia-based firm that specializes in turning open government data into products real people can use. Incorporated in 2012 by three former Big Four government consulting alums, the GovTribe team strives to improve the enterprise IT experience through business applications built and priced for the end user.