Environmental Protection Agency


Milestone 6 - February 28th 2015

OMB Review Complete: OMB has completed the agency review for this milestone. Agencies should contact their OMB desk officer if anything looks incorrect.

Leading Indicators

These indicators are reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget

Review Status complete
Reviewer Jamie Berryhill
Last Updated April 27, 2015, 1:30 pm EDT by Jamie Berryhill

Assessment Summary

PDL: EPA's count of APIs appears to be inflated. Some datasets that do not appear to be true APIs are tagged as APIs, and many datasets are listed as separate datasets when they should actually be listed as one dataset if they were properly grouped as a "collection" in the metadata schema. For example, the "Toxic Release Inventory" should be one dataset, but is currently provided as over 1500 separate entries broken down by year and state.

Public engagement: EPA still uses an outdated blog for customer feedback. No signs of updates to the feedback mechanism since last quarter.

NOTE: Technical details on EPA's PDL were not available due to a technical limitation on OMB's part. The percentage of datasets that are published was not available for this review so we used last quarter's figures as an estimate.

Inventory Composition

Public Dataset Status

Status Indicator Automated Metrics
Overall Progress this Milestone
Inventory Updated this Quarter
4315 Number of Datasets
3856 Number of APIs
Schedule Delivered Crawl details
Bureaus represented
Programs represented
4154 Number of public datasets
46 Number of restricted public datasets
115 Number of non-public datasets
Inventory > Public listing
21% Percentage growth in records since last quarter
8,000 Spot Check - datasets listed by search engine
Agency provides a public Enterprise Data Inventory on Data.gov
License specified Crawl details
Status Indicator Automated Metrics
Overall Progress this Milestone
3674 Number of Datasets Crawl details
Number of Collections Crawl details
3674 Number of Public Datasets with File Downloads Crawl details
3267 Number of APIs Crawl details
Total number of access and download links Crawl details
Quality Check: Links are sufficiently working Crawl details
Quality Check: Accessible links Crawl details
Quality Check: Redirected links Crawl details
Quality Check: Error links Crawl details
Quality Check: Broken links Crawl details
3% Percentage growth in records since last quarter
100% Valid Metadata Crawl details
/data exists Crawl details
/data.json Crawl details
Harvested by data.gov
7257 Views on data.gov for the quarter
Status Indicator Automated Metrics
Overall Progress this Milestone
Description of feedback mechanism delivered Crawl details
Data release is prioritized through public engagement
Feedback loop is closed, 2 way communication
See below Link to or description of Feedback Mechanism
Status Indicator Automated Metrics
Overall Progress this Milestone
Data Publication Process Delivered Crawl details
Information that should not to be made public is documented with agency's OGC
Status Indicator Automated Metrics
Overall Progress this Milestone
See below Open Data Primary Point of Contact
POCs identified for required responsibilities

Best Practice: Environmental Protection Agency has been highlighted for demonstrating a best practice on the Use & Impact indicator

Status Indicator Automated Metrics
Overall Progress this Milestone
Identified 5 data improvements for this quarter
See below Primary Uses
All of the respondents use of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to support improved environmental outcomes. As one noted, they work with local governments, non-profit organizations, academic research projects and federal agencies in a broad range of domains that include: public safety, land conversation, urban ecosystems, watersheds, transportation, and human services. Another firm integrates EPA data with financial information to allow their clients to research environmental impact and history when screening stocks and customizing their stock portfolios. Another used EPA data and the Department of Energy data to produce a product that informs their users about the carbon dioxide emissions of their building portfolios. Several were using EPA data within a geographic information system or mapping program. One was combining EPA data with state and local information to visualize and map data for the public, so communities can make sense of and share raw government data to which citizens would not otherwise have access.
See below Value or impact of data
One firm stated, in many cases, their work would not be possible or would be significantly different if the (government) data sets did not exist. Open data has enabled greater access to EPA and other federal data and has allowed companies to integrate (mash-up) and explore a far wider range of information sources, illustrating to federal clients the value of more fully exploiting the vast repositories of administrative data they regularly collect. One firm noted the benefit from the revenue made by consulting projects using the data and through our API service, which other citizens and companies use. Others noted value added benefits to their clients and to the public. One stated that open data allowed them to help their clients identify unaddressed environmental protection program priorities. Some of the respondents pointed out that the quality or the format of the data actually limited the value of some information (see the suggestions for improving usability of data question).
See below Primary data discovery channels
The respondents have learned about EPA datasets in the following ways input from their clients, conferences, EPA webpages, Google searches, and Twitter inquiries to their professional network. A couple have worked with EPA data for years and knew what was available. One even reported all of the data sets they used as EPA acronyms. One mentioned the need to hunt data down. Some noted that EPA (program) web pages were key to a better understanding of the data they used.
See below User suggestions on improving data usability
EPA received several suggestions (some ardent) to improve its (and other Federal) data. One firm stated that their work and research indicates that there might be other, more curated means of advancing the amount and value of information provided by federal agencies. Another suggested a portal of all the data, making it as flat (not multiple tables) and as granular as possible, and include latitude and longitude. The same firm noted EPA might consider pre-formatting some data in something like the omgstandard.com format as an alternative to multiple tables. This reflects that Federal data is often integrated with data from local governments that have their own emerging standards. One said, the most important thing with opening data is to follow the Sunlight Foundation's recommendations. Also they asked that EPA make sure to make the columns as granular as possible and include accurate latitude and longitude for all data when applicable. A couple of firms noted that it would be beneficial to us to have the data in an exportable file that is already aggregated at the parent level. Another suggestion was to make data easier to use and access (TRI, for example, seemed to be more difficult to use and has less useful data than data released 10 years ago, and it was unclear why that was the case). One asked that EPA EnergyStar for buildings adopt the Green Button national standard as the format for uploading usage data. They also asked for the federal government (Department of Energy) to provide more detailed pricing data on how much electricity costs end users. EPA appreciates this feedback and will direct the specific feedback to the appropriate data stewards.
See below User suggestions on additional data releases
None, really. A couple of the companies alluded that they we were not sure what all was available.
Digital Analytics Program on /data

Automated Metrics

These metrics are generated by an automated analysis that runs every 24 hours until the end of the quarter at which point they become a historical snapshot

Expected Data.json URL http://www.epa.gov/data.json (From USA.gov Directory)
Resolved Data.json URL http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-11/dcat_public_v2.json
Number of Redirects 1 redirects
HTTP Status 200
Content Type text/plain
Valid JSON Invalid Check a JSON Validator
Datasets with Valid Metadata
Valid Schema Invalid
File Size 8.95MB
Last modified Thursday, 26-Feb-2015 18:24:47 EST
Last crawl Friday, 27-Feb-2015 23:01:55 EST
Analyze archive copies Analyze archive from 2015-02-28
/data page
Expected /data URL http://www.epa.gov/data (From USA.gov Directory)
Resolved /data URL http://www.epa.gov/data/
Redirects 1 redirects
HTTP Status 200
Content Type text/html
Last modified Tuesday, 18-Mar-2014 15:25:37 EDT
Last crawl Friday, 27-Feb-2015 23:01:55 EST
Expected /digitalstrategy.json URL http://www.epa.gov/digitalstrategy.json (From USA.gov Directory)
Resolved /digitalstrategy.json URL http://www.epa.gov/digitalstrategy.json
HTTP Status 200
Content Type application/json
Valid JSON Valid
Last modified Wednesday, 18-Dec-2013 09:47:54 EST
Last crawl Friday, 27-Feb-2015 23:01:55 EST
Digital Strategy

Date specified: Friday, 31-May-2019 09:16:54 EDT

Date of digitalstrategy.json file: Wednesday, 18-Dec-2013 09:47:54 EST

1.2.4 Develop Data Inventory Schedule - Summary

Summarize the Inventory Schedule

In 2005 the EPA developed a metadata catalog for Agency datasets known as the Environmental Dataset Gateway (EDG). In response to Project Open Data requirements the EPA CIO issued an Agency-wide data call in Fall of 2013 asking all EPA organizations to register their datasets in EDG. Since that time the Agency has been committed to increasing the percentage of EPA data cataloged within the EDG. The Office of Environmental Information works with the Agency's Information Management Officers on an ongoing basis to encourage them to ensure that data within their program offices are registered in the EDG and has increased its network of stakeholders to ensure that any datasets not identified during the 2013 data call are registered in EDG.

1.2.5 Develop Data Inventory Schedule - Milestones

TitleProvide reports to programs to identify metadata holes.
DescriptionEPA uses its registry of IT Systems, READ, to identify datasets that may not be cataloged in the EDG. The EDG team works with the data stewardship network to identify and catalog the missing datasets.
Milestone DateOngoing
Description of how this milestone expands the InventoryThis milestone allows EPA to identify and catalog new datasets that were not identified in the original 2013 data call within the Agency's Environmental Dataset Gateway, the metadata catalog which is used to create the Enterprise Data Inventory.
Description of how this milestone enriches the InventoryThis milestone brings new and important datasets into EPA's Enterprise Data Inventory.
Description of how this milestone opens the InventoryThis milestones provides additional datasets that are publicly available through both the EDG and data.gov.

1.2.6 Develop Customer Feedback Process

Describe the agency's process to engage with customers

EPA interacts with the public on its data in numerous ways including public meetings/forums, feedback buttons on websites, webinars, mailboxes, FOIA Online and help desks. Recently the Agency launched an online public data forum to communicate with the public about its data in a fully transparent manner: http://developer.epa.gov/forums/forum/dataset-qa/. This forum enables two-way, transparent feedback between the Agency and the public. It can be accessed through three different webpages: the Environmental Dataset Gateway (EDG) webpage, the Developer Central webpage, and EPA's Digital Strategy webpage.  The forum shows both the public user's question and the Agency's answer and categorizes questions to increase discoverability about specific topics. Development work is underway to embed the forum into the Agency's metadata stylesheet. This would allow people to ask questions about a specific dataset directly from a metadata record and have that question routed to the metadata owner for response.
 In addition to the Forum, EPA has developed an error correction tool which allows the public to report errors that they find relating to data, especially in relation to the geographic locations of data points. The errors are routed through a system that returns feedback to the person who has reported the error.

1.2.7 Develop Data Publication Process

Describe the agency's data publication process

EPA has a number of policies and procedures concerning the publication of Agency data.  The Enterprise Information Management Policy requires all EPA Organization officials, employees, and individuals or non-EPA organizations, if applicable, to ensure information is cataloged and or labeled with metadata.  This includes geographic references, as appropriate, in EPA and Federal-wide registries, repositories or other information systems.  The EPA GeoPlatform Publishing Workflow Standard Operating Procedure and the EPA Environmental Dataset Gateway (EDG) Governance Structure and Standard Operating Procedure outline the details of EPA data publishing.
 EPA provides a range of tools and registry content (e.g. Reusable Component Services, Environmental Dataset Gateway, and Data Element Registry) through its System of Registries located at: www.epa.gov/sor. EPA is continuing efforts to document APIs through the development of an Agency-wide API Strategy.  The proposed strategy is based on 18F's API standards.  The proposal encourages the use of api.data.gov's API management platform. In addition, APIs produced by the EPA should be described using one of the common API definition formats (such as Swagger, API Blueprint and RAML).  The strategy is being finalized and an Agency-wide communication plan is being developed.  This communication plan will include Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that require API developers to register dataset APIs in the EPA's Environmental Dataset Gateway, which will allow these APIs to become part of the EPA's EDI/PDL.  All other APIs will be registered in EPA's Reusable Components Services (RCS).