News From Our Blog

What is the Debt Limit?

The federal government can borrow money to pay its bills, just like taking out a loan. The debt limit is the maximum amount that Congress allows the government to borrow, similar to the credit limit on a credit card. The government will exceed the current debt limit of $14.3 trillion dollars on August 2 unless Congress votes to raise the limit before that date.

Raising the debt limit would let the government borrow enough money to pay bills that it already owes, such as Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, and tax refunds. It does not mean that the government has decided to spend more money.

According to the U.S. Treasury, “Failing to increase the debt limit would have catastrophic economic consequences. It would cause the government to default on its legal obligations – an unprecedented event in American history. That would precipitate another financial crisis and threaten the jobs and savings of everyday Americans.”

This isn’t the first time that the government has reached its debt limit. The limit has been raised, extended, or revised 78 times since 1960.

Learn more about the debt limit from the U.S. Treasury.

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate Nelson Mandela and join the world in celebrating his 93rd birthday this Sunday. I am honored and humbled to call President Mandela my friend. Like millions of his admirers around the world, I am deeply moved by his generosity of spirit and unfailing courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles. After 26 years locked in an apartheid prison, he emerged to lead South Africa’s transition from the division of apartheid to an integrated, multi-racial democracy. He embraced his jailers without bitterness or hatred and provided an example to his own people and people everywhere.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on celebrating the first Nelson Mandela International Day. Open Data and Hack Day

In March, we announced a new URL shortening service called automatically creates .gov URLs whenever you use bitly to shorten a URL that ends in .gov or .mil. We created this service to make it easy for people to know when a short URL will lead to official, and trustworthy, government information.

Data is created every time someone clicks on a link, which happens about 56,000 times each day. Together, these clicks show what government information people are sharing with their friends and networks. No one has ever had such a broad view of how government information is viewed and shared online.

Today, we’re excited to announce that all of the data created by clicks is freely available through the Developers page on We want as many people as possible to benefit from the insights we get from Hack Day

To mark the occasion, we’re also planning a nationwide Hack Day on July 29.

The Hack Day will bring together software developers, entrepreneurs, and curious citizens to look at the data produced by and discover new uses for the information.

Hack day events will take place in San Diego, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.. Participation is free! We hope you will join us.

If you’d like to attend, please visit the pages our collaborators have set up for each event where you can find more information and RSVP:

Of course, you don’t have to attend a physical event to share your ideas with the world. If you create something interesting with data that you’d like to share, leave a comment about it on this blog post, or tweet about it using the hashtag #1USAgov.

And, even if you’re not a developer, you can help us get the word out! Please share this post with anyone interested in showcasing what open government data can do!

New Crib Safety Standards

Starting today, all cribs manufactured and sold in the United States must follow new federal safety regulations. It is now illegal to manufacture or sell traditional drop-side rail cribs. All cribs must have more durable mattress support, slats, and hardware and manufacturers must go through a more rigorous testing process.

There is not a new recall on drop-side rail cribs because of these new regulations. You can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for companies that have recalled their cribs and are providing immobilizers to secure the drop-side on the cribs.

Facilities such as daycare centers, hotels, and church nurseries have until December 28, 2011 to replace old cribs with compliant cribs that meet the new safety standards.

It is important to note that you cannot tell by looking at a crib whether or not it meets the new standards. The CPSC recommends you check with the retailer or manufacturer, who is required to run tests on their products to ensure they meet the standards.

Visit the CPSC for more information on the new crib standards.

FBI Reports 5.5% Decrease in Violent Crime in 2010

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report for 2010 today. According to the report, the number of violent crimes decreased 5.5% and the number of property crimes decreased 2.8% in 2010 when compared with data from 2009.

A few key findings from the report:

  • Violent crime declined in all city groups. Cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 saw the greatest decline in violent crime (6.9 percent). Violent crime in non-metropolitan counties decreased 6.4 percent, and in metropolitan counties, it declined 6.0 percent.
  • Violent crime decreased in all four regions of the country in 2010. There was a 7.5 percent decrease in violent crime in the South, a 5.9 decline in the Midwest, a 5.8 percent decrease in the West, and a 0.4 percent decline in the Northeast.
  • All property crime offense categories—burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft—decreased in 2010 when compared with 2009 data. Motor vehicle theft showed the largest drop (7.2 percent), followed by larceny-theft, which decreased 2.8 percent, and burglary, which declined 1.1 percent.

You can read more findings from the report on, and click here to download the raw data used in the report.