Nebula 2.0 gets its money’s worth

Version 2.0 of launched this week and includes a cleaner, more elegant user interface and search filtering on all federal government spending. The new site was developed in Drupal and is partially hosted on NASA’s Nebula cloud service.

Users can search anything from bombs to toilet paper and filter government spending by location, timeline, agency, extent competed, recipient, product/service code, NAICS and fiscal year. first launched December 2007 as part of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) of 2006 that required the Office of Management and Budget to ‘establish a single searchable website, accessible to the public at no cost’ on all federal government spending.

From What’s New in 2.0?:

  1. Compare spending across agencies – understand types of agency spending understand types of agency spending
  2. View agency spending dashboards – see how and where agencies are spending money and who the recipients are
  3. Explore spending trends with interactive charts – use interactive motion charts to see how spending trends have changed from year to year
  4. See spending where you live – use interactive maps to see dollars being spent in your state
  5. Quickly find what you are looking for – use interactive search features to customize your search across multiple dimensions
  6. Filter, analyze and share – share your feeds, exports and results with friends via social book-marking and RSS feeds
  7. Analyze contract and award transactions – review all transactions for a single contract or award in one simple list
  8. Download bulk data – download all spending data for offline analysis
  9. Get spending updates every day – access new spending data on a daily basis
  10. Expect more transparency – look for more spending data in the future as 2.0 is engineered to support full FFATA compliance

    Gov 2.0 guide to cloud computing

    Cloud computing is a computing model that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. It enables convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources, which may include networks, servers, storage or software applications.

    These resources can be rapidly self-provisioned online with no service provider interaction. The service is fully managed by the provider, freeing users from the finer details of system maintenance.

    Services are sold on-demand and provisioned on a pay-per-use or metered-use basis, similar to a utility. Services are also elastic, meaning they will automatically scale to meet fluctuations in demand so a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time.

    Cloud services typically fall into three broad categories:

    Software as a Service (SaaS)

    Software services can include anything from Web-based email to specialized inventory control and database processing software. The user interacts with the software product through a front-end portal and because the service provider hosts both the application and the data, the end user is free to use the service from anywhere.

    Platform as a Service (PaaS)

    Platform as a Service provides a set of software and product development tools hosted on the service provider’s infrastructure. Developers can create custom software applications on the provider’s platform over the Internet. Service providers may use APIs, website portals or gateway software installed on the user’s computer to enable interoperability with other systems. (*note: There are currently no standards for interoperability or data portability in the cloud)

    Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

    Sometimes referred to as utility computing, Infrastructure as a Service provides virtual server instances with unique IP addresses and blocks of on-demand storage. Users can start, stop, access and configure their virtual servers and storage via the provider’s application program interface (API). Users pay for only as much capacity as is needed, and the cloud provides more capacity automatically as soon as it is required.

    Advantages of cloud computing for the federal government

    Cloud computing offers a cost-effective and service-oriented approach for sharing computing resources across the government. Being able to access a powerful pool of common infrastructure, applications, information, and solutions greatly improves communication and collaboration across government in addition to providing incredible cost savings. The overall objective is to create a more agile federal enterprise, where services can be provisioned and reused on demand to meet changing business needs.

    How cloud computing enables government transparency

    Cloud computing is an excellent tool for fast, easy, secure and economical data sharing. By using a hybrid cloud environment, a government agency can easily port data sets into a secure computing environment and that data can be safely accessed by outside parties via open data APIs or commercial cloud services such as Amazon EC2 or Goggle App Engine.

    Government clouds underway

    More on cloud computing

    Federal cloud bodies

    • Cloud Computing Advisory Council
    • Cloud Computing Executive Steering Committee


    The Benefits of Government Cloud Computing

    Technology, Innovation and Government

    Vivek Kundra introduces

    Aneesh Chopra, Federal CTO discusses Cloud Computing

    Linda Cureton, NASA CIO discusses Cloud Computing

    Popular private-sector clouds