A few months ago we, along with our partners at the Department of the Interior, launched a new website showing the U.S.’s commitment to the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Today, 18F joins the Departments of the Interior and State at General Assembly DC to celebrate Sunshine Week and the progress we made together in shedding light on public data. The event starts at noon and if you can’t attend, follow @useiti_doi on Twitter where 18F teammate Nick Bristow will be live tweeting the event.
What is EITI?
The federal government earns revenue from resources like coal, natural gas, and oil extracted out of public lands. For example, in 2013 more than $9.8 billion dollars were earned from active natural resource leases on Federal land. In the ten previous years, $127.4 billion was earned in resource revenues from the extractive industries. The international initiative is a group of 48 countries, including the US, dedicated to opening up information about revenues from these industries by establishing a global standard to promote openness and accountability in extractives management. It seeks to strengthen government and company systems, inform public debate and enhance trust.
Each country implements the EITI standard locally with the support of the broader EITI coalition, and through a multi-stakeholder group of government, civil society and industry. Having an abundance of natural resources like oil and gas may seem like a good thing, but historically it has carried a few negative side effects such as an under-performing economy, a higher incidence of conflict, and poor governance. However, these effects are not inevitable. EITI hopes that encouraging greater transparency in countries rich in these resources will mitigate some of the potential negative impacts. For a period of time, very few developed countries were part of EITI. By implementing USEITI, the United States is demonstrating our commitment to government transparency and accountability while at the same time bolstering EITI internationally. You can learn more about the benefits of the broader initiative on the EITI website.
USEITI on the web
The website 18F helped Interior build, currently in live beta, offers visualizations of extractives data to show how such resources generate revenue across the country, and where the money earned goes. While for some resources basic data have existed for decades, EITI provided the impetus to release these data sortable by the amount the government receives in revenue by company. In addition to the data visualization, the USEITI website provides resources to help ordinary individuals better understand U.S. energy resources and policy. Even if you live in a state that isn’t on the map at useiti.doi.gov, the money earned directly benefits local communities in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
The current iteration of the website only tells part of the story. For example, there is more work to be done in providing data about non-energy resources such as gold and copper. Some of these resources are mined under laws that are more than 100 years old, and some of their related data hasn’t quite made it into the twenty-first century.
The Department of the Interior hopes that providing this data and information in a user-friendly way will give people around the world a clearer view of how minerals from public lands affect their local communities and systems of government.