Where you can't (and can) get government data during the shutdown

Here's a rundown of what major government data sources are still offline and how to work around some of them

As the U.S. government shutdown drags on, its impact on government-provided data sources ought to give IT admins and developers a case study to reflect on for a long time to come.

But in the short run, a lot of government-provided data sets -- used by businesses, nonprofits, individuals, and governments alike -- are not being updated or are completely unavailable.

The United States normally maintains a broad list of data APIs through its Data.gov site, many of which are echoed in ProgrammableWeb.com's list of government-supplied APIs. Unfortunately, even the Data.gov lists are offline (try the Internet Archive for a backup copy of the master list).

Here's some of the most relevant and useful APIs and data sources that are offline for the time being, along with some suggested backups.

Government APIs that aren't working

Bureau of Economic Analysis: Even historical data isn't available right now from the BEA; the entire site has gone dark.

Bureau of Labor Statistics: The agency normally responsible for issuing jobs reports will "not collect data, issue reports, or respond to public inquiries" during the shutdown period. That means no data on job losses or gains, and no unemployment numbers (all of which were scheduled to come out this Friday).

Census Bureau: As with the BEA, the Census Bureau is totally dark. However, others have suggested the state-level Missouri Census Data Center as an interim alternative, since it has historical data for all states, not just Missouri.

Centers for Disease Control/National Center for Health Statistics: The CDC's Content Syndication section still appears to be online, although with the disclaimer that it may not be updated, likewise the Health Indicators Warehouse. WONDER (mortality data) is totally offline, including historical data.

Department of Agriculture: Both the DoA and its Economic Research Service are totally dark, with both APIs and historical data offline.

Department of Justice: Entirely offline, including Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Department of Labor: Access to all datasets is offline. Some historical data can be gleaned from their articles archive.

National Center for Education Statistics: Entirely offline, including historical data. Some high-level data of comparable use can be obtained from the World Bank's website.

We the People: A read-only API for the sake of accessing petitions submitted to the White House. Any petitions that were open as of Oct. 1 "will have their deadlines extended" to compensate for the shutdown.

Government APIs that are partially or entirely working

U.S. Geological Survey: Offline, but many data sources relating to natural hazards or things "necessary to protect lives and property" -- such as disease maps -- are still online.

IT Dashboard: The data feeds for the website "enabling federal agencies, industry, the general public, and other stakeholders to view details of federal information technology investments" are up and running. Data is current as of Aug. 30, 2013, however (it's updated only biannually anyway, though).

Homeland Security/TSA: The MyTSA Web Service API still appears to be working, since it's a security-related government function.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Most historical data still appears to be available, but data updates do not appear to be taking place.

Department of Defense: >Unsurprisingly, the list of DoD APIs and Web services all seem to be up and running.

Federal Reserve: The FRED is still up, although some data is not being added during the shutdown.

National Vulnerability Database: Provided by the NIST, this database is still queryable, although it's not being updated during the shutdown.

U.S. Energy Information Administration: Officially a beta product, its data sets still appear to be accessible, although it's not clear if they're still being updated.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: The patent and trademark databases are still online and can be queried.

This story, "Where you can't (and can) get government data during the shutdown," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.


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