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Survey Says Government Not Doing Great Job of Providing Useful Data

Few people think that government agencies are doing a "great job" of providing useful data, according to a new Pew Research Center survey in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, but a majority said the Obama Administration's Open Government initiative may help journalists better keep tabs on that process.

According to a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults, 56% said that government data can help journalists cover government more thoroughly.

There is an even split (49%) on whether making government data public can improve services.

Only 5% said the government is effectively sharing data. Only 19% said they could come up with an example of government doing a good job of providing information on the public data it collects.

“While most Americans use the Internet to intermittently access government information or services, few have considered how increasing the availability and utility of government data could impact their lives,” said Jon Sotsky, Knight Foundation director for strategy and assessment, on the study.

The respondents differed about putting different information online.

The study found that 82% said they were comfortable with government sharing data about "the health and safety records of restaurants," and 62% were OK with government sharing information about people's criminal records. While 54% were comfortable with the government sharing real estate transaction data, only 22% were OK with it sharing individuals' mortgage information.