USASpending.gov uses FusionCharts

Americans can see where their money goes using FusionCharts – quite literally. Vivek Kundra, the US national CIO unveiled the new Federal IT dashboard at http://it.usaspending.gov on Tuesday. The dashboards are designed to help Vivek and the CIOs of individual government agencies get a handle on the effectiveness of government IT spending. They also intend to give the public a look at thousands of IT projects underway around the federal government.

And now for our moment of pride – FusionCharts Suite has been used extensively in the dashboard for data visualization purposes (Thanks to Tim O’Reilly for pointing it out).

This is what the dashboard looks like first up:

USASpending.gov using FusionCharts

While the usefulness of the dashboard and the transparency that it will bring about are best left to the experts (here and here), we will take a look at the charting aspects of the dashboard.

The first look at the dashboard shows the agencies of the federal IT government and then you can drill down to individual project overviews – descriptions, details on contracts signed, schedule meltdowns, performance metrics and the like.

USASpending.gov using FusionCharts

The dashboard as you might appreciate has been really aesthetically done. Some of the things that we particularly like about it are:

  • Correct usage of charts: While using a simple column chart to show agency-wise investment, an angular gauge to show rating on a scale of 10 and the like are no Eureka moments – but with the wide variety of charts available at a user’s disposal nowadays, people do tend to use a maximum number of chart types just for the heck of it. So the choice of chart types has to be commended here. The only choice which will forever remain debatable is the use of the pie chart, which has been used for displaying the overall ranking.
  • Drill-down capabilities: You can drill-down right from the agency name to the individual projects under the agency and more details like evaluation and spending on them. This allows the user to see details at the level he wishes to. So while Vivek and the CIOs of individual government agencies might be looking more at the overall picture, members of the public would be more interested in individual projects which directly affect them.
  • Effective use of tooltips: Let’s accept it. Not many people would be interested in all the agencies shown in the chart all at once. So extra information regarding agencies and their investments & spending are neatly delegated to the tooltips. When someone wants more information about a particular agency, he can hover over it for more info and then drill-down into it for even greater details.
  • Meaningful captions: All the charts in the dashboard have meaningful captions which do a good job of summarizing what the chart comprises of as a whole. For example, the first screen of the dashboard clearly talks about the number of investments for a particular agency and the total spending on all of them, which fits the data better in context.

One feature that we would have loved to see if there was a way to pause the automatic playing of data and then start it again from the same point. For example, if you wanted to take a look at the break-up of investments for DOT and click on it, its details would be displayed but pretty soon the details of some other agency would be automatically shown. An option to pause the playback at this point would have been really handy.

The dashboard so far tracks over $539 billion budgeted dollars in 781 “investments” comprising over 7,000 projects. It is indeed a matter or pride for us at FusionCharts to be associated with a project of such a big magnitude and importance to the American people.

In Vivek’s words, “Data is powerful. It enables monitoring, reporting, and meaningful analysis that leads to better decisions….giving us the ability to turn around poorly performing projects and to divest from those which no longer make sense.” All the best Vivek – we hope the dashboards are a success.

  • Tod July 4, 2009, 6:37 am

    Hi,
    Thats a gr8 news, thanks for your charts..

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