Open government directive bears fruit, databases

In December, 2009 Peter Orszag, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, issued an Open Government Directive (original PDF here) requiring a number of agencies to “identify and publish online in an open format at least three high-value data sets” on within 45 days. That deadline came on Jan. 22, and the resulting data sets have all been posted online. The beefiest and most immediately useful are those from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but we’ve also included other sets which could prove useful for health care journalists. Descriptions are taken directly from

Department of Veterans Affairs

ogdVeterans hospital report cards and safety reports
The VA has divided report cards (11 categories) and safety reports (4 categories) into topic-specific files, from Infrastructure to Nosocomial Infections. The best way to find what you’re looking for is to visit the Open Government Directive site and then scroll down to “Department of Veterans Affairs.”

FY08 Veterans Compensation and Pension by County
The Compensation and Pension by County dataset is a count of the number of veterans receiving disability compensation or pension payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The data is reported at the county level, by age group and by % disability rating.

Social Security disability claims

SSA Disability Claim Data
The dataset includes fiscal year data for initial claims for SSA disability benefits that were referred to a state agency for a disability determination. Specific data elements for each year and state include receipts, determinations, eligible population, and favorable determination rates.

SSA State Agency Workload Data

The dataset includes monthly data from October 2000 onwards concerning initial claims for SSA disability benefits that were referred to a state agency for a disability determination.

USDA nutrition data

MyPyramid Food Raw Data
MyPyramid Food Data provides information on the total calories; calories from solid fats, added sugars, and alcohol (extras); MyPyramid food group and subgroup amounts; and saturated fat content of over 1,000 commonly eaten foods with corresponding commonly used portion amounts.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

The USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22 (SR22) is the major source of food composition data in the United States and provides the foundation for most public and private sector databases. SR22 contains nutrient data for over 7,500 food items for up to 143 food components, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids.


CY 2009 MTM Contact List
CMS approved contact list of Part D Sponsors in Medication Therapy Management Program (MTMP) which is in their plans’ benefit structure.

Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals Claims Listed by State
Total count of Claims received by Region, State and fiscal year. Appeals can be found here.

Part B National Summary Data File

The Medicare Part B National datasets are summarized by meaningful Health Care Common Procedure Coding/Current Procedural Terminology, (HCPC/CPT), code ranges. Each dataset displays the allowed services, allowed charges and payment amounts by HCPC/CPT codes and prominent modifiers.


OSHA Data Initiative – Establishment Specific Injury and Illness Rates
Each year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects work-related injury and illness data from employers within specific industry and employment size specifications. This data collection is called the OSHA Data Initiative or ODI. The data provided is used by OSHA to calculate establishment specific injury and illness incidence rates.

What else is there?

The “Tools” section of the site includes widgets and data-mining and extraction tools, applications, and other services to “provide the public with simple, application-driven access to Federal data with hyperlinks.” The “Geodata” section includes federal geospatial data with metadata and links to more detailed Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata information.

The site is soliciting comments about what datasets should be made available, so you can  suggest more datasets here. The site also offers a tutorial.

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