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So, How Do We Put Elizabeth Warren’s Calendar Online?

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One of the most popular features on this site is an interactive copy of Elizabeth Warren’s calendar, which includes an RSS feed and the raw calendar data. We think it is already the richest, most detailed leadership calendar that a .gov web site has offered to date, and we hope to make it even better. Today, we want to share a bit of the work that goes into creating and updating this tool.

The calendar was a high priority for the web site launch. The question wasn’t if we would provide Professor Warren’s full calendar, but how. We figured the effort would be smooth sailing from there.

We were wrong. We learned very quickly why interactive leadership calendars are rare: they’re hard. Getting this calendar from Professor Warren’s computer to the web takes a lot of planning, technical work, and ongoing maintenance.

The calendar Professor Warren uses on a day-to-day basis is maintained in a desktop application. Fortunately, that application lets you save a calendar as an .ics file, a standard calendar format that many applications can interpret. (A key component of openness is using open, cross-compatible data formats when possible.) At the end of every month, we save a copy of that month’s events as an .ics file. That lets us work with the calendar without altering the original.

A sample redacted calendar event.

A sample redacted calendar event.

The next step is the redaction process under the Freedom of Information Act. Any given month contains several events with information that may be personal or pre-decisional. For example, if Professor Warren interviews a job candidate or has dinner at someone’s home, we must remove the candidate’s name or the address of the home. Such redactions are noted on the calendar as “REDACTED”. Clicking on the event will give you more information about the nature of the deleted information.

We save the redactions back to the source file, a step that is much harder than it sounds. This way, the modified file can be moved to an internal testing, or “staging,” version of our web site. This test is the most labor-intensive task of the whole process. We triple-check that the information we’re about to put online contains no personal information. We can’t be certain unless we check the raw source file; combing through that metadata is quite a chore. To give you an idea of what we’re looking through, the image below is an example of what that data looks like.

A sample of Professor Warren's calendar metadata.

A sample of Professor Warren’s calendar metadata.

Going through this process just once was enough to give us a new appreciation for open government projects. This is painstaking work, and it took us weeks to figure out the process. Each cycle has taught us lessons that streamline the workflow, cutting the process down and increasing our efficiency.

Yesterday, we added February’s calendar to the December and January calendars we posted earlier. We have also back-filled the calendar with October’s and November’s events. We hope the calendar can serve as a starting point for more open government initiatives as we continue building this consumer bureau.

  • Get A Job

    I would like to see confirmation hearings by the Senate placed on Ms. Warren’s calendar.

    The administration has yet to allow Ms. Warren to go through the Senate confirmation process. Why not? What is there to hide? If the CFPB is to be totally transparent, then why not go through the required process to confirm her as the leader of the organization?

    If Ms. Warren wants to require full and clear disclosures from financial providers, she needs to put her money where her mouth is and to fully disclose herself to the American people.

    • Mike

      Republicans should appoint Mr Trump so he can tell him “your fired” when he kicks his Kenyan butt our of the WHITE house in 2012.

      • 1ofthemany

        E. Warren should run if she makes it through this.

        • Get A Job

          Through what? She hasn’t been through the confirmation process.

          Why won’t any of her supporters address the issue of her not being confirmed by the Senate to play this key role?

    • Mike

      Republicans should appoint Mr Trump so he can tell him “your fired” when he kicks his Kenyan butt our of the WHITE house in 2012.

  • Get A Job

    I would like to see confirmation hearings by the Senate placed on Ms. Warren’s calendar.

    The administration has yet to allow Ms. Warren to go through the Senate confirmation process. Why not? What is there to hide? If the CFPB is to be totally transparent, then why not go through the required process to confirm her as the leader of the organization?

    If Ms. Warren wants to require full and clear disclosures from financial providers, she needs to put her money where her mouth is and to fully disclose herself to the American people.

  • Mark

    (Reuters) -” Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration’s defender of financial consumers, will venture into the corporate lion’s den this week, along with Jamie Dimon, CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    The two will be speakers at an event set for Wednesday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business lobbying group, in its Corinthian-columned headquarters situated within view of the White House.”

    Sic ‘em Elizabeth. You’ve got millions of supporters,(whether they know it or not), out here to each one Jamie or any of them have. Sink your teeth in them and don’t let go.

  • Mark

    (Reuters) -” Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration’s defender of financial consumers, will venture into the corporate lion’s den this week, along with Jamie Dimon, CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    The two will be speakers at an event set for Wednesday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business lobbying group, in its Corinthian-columned headquarters situated within view of the White House.”

    Sic ‘em Elizabeth. You’ve got millions of supporters,(whether they know it or not), out here to each one Jamie or any of them have. Sink your teeth in them and don’t let go.

  • Allynhart1

    I just heard about the smear campaign by the WSJ and bankers about Elizabeth Warren. She is one of the few people I trust in the government and I just need her to know that what she is doing is very important to me and many people I know. The people in power, namely the financial sector seem to have unlimited power to do whatever pleases them which is mostly to amass more money and power. I can’t imagine the resistance Elizabeth is up against, but know it must be very discouraging. Many of us out here just feel dispirited over the current situation and send all our wishes for good luck, support and congratulations for being a very rare person in public service, who is actually acting in our interests. Keep up the good work. We are counting on you. Sincerely, Allyn Hart

    • Get A Job

      Dear Ms. Hart,

      I assume that you personally know Ms. Warren to be able to make such strong statements about trust.

      Unfortunately, I do not have the benefit of knowing her as you do.

      That is why confirmation hearings are so important. The people of this country who are to be protected by this new bureau have a right to learn about the person who is leading and forming it.

      Ms. Warren knew what arena she was moving into. She understood that in the political world there would be resistance, etc.

      She also knew that she would be subject to confirmation hearings. Just because they might be uncomfortable or require responses to difficult questions does not give her, or anyone for that matter, the right to avoid the process.

      Believe me, she is not discouraged. I believe this type of a challenge is one she enjoys. It elevates her stature and that the bureau.

      Please join me in asking that Ms. Warren go through the confirmation process. Or, if you disagree, please explain to me, and the nation, why Ms. Warren should be exempt.

  • Jeff

    Or you could create a google calendar that can be published online and sync’d to oulook or whatever desktop application and it should have tken about 3 minutes.

    • Get A Job

      Our taxpayer dollars at work.

  • Get A Job

    Can someone explain how having the redacted version of Ms. Warren’s calendar is promoting open government?

    I don’t think any of us are worried about the parts they choose to make public. Almost all politicians do that.

  • 1ofthemany

    As we have, time and time again, been promised transparency it would be nice to see something real coming out of Washington just one time. I do hope you are able to make a difference in a positive way but if you do I feel it will be little as our well kept government, well kept -off the back of the working public, does not care causing the American people to have little faith. The financial powers are the “Favorite Child” of the government or should I say the parents of our government as we have seen so many loose all to the greed which continues even as I write this people are still being trampled. I wish you success in the name of “The People” and reserve some faith, as that is all we have these day, that you are what you profess to be. As my parent always tole me “Time will tell”. Good luck with your new babysitting job. I do hope it turns into something wonderful for the American working people.

    • Get A Job

      Wow. Listening to the folks on these blogs, I have come to the following conclusions:

      It is time to close all of the banks, finance companies, credit unions, credit card issuers, student loan providers, investment banks, stock brokers, savings and loans, etc.

      It is time to ban loans and credit cards of all types.

      It is time to ban all investment instruments.

      We should require cash only to be used as a medium of exchange for goods and services.

      We should require cash-only for the purchase of homes, automobiles, appliances, and other goods and services.

      We should require cash-only for the payment of all tuition for colleges and universities.

      Everything should be free. Free education, free cars, free food, free housing.

      We should make government responsible for everything and abdicate our freedom of choice as individuals.

  • Jhawk

    why not post in easier format (PDF?) so this can be more timely…

  • Tom Rutan

    I would like learn about what efforts are being made to provide consumer protection information for military families. I understand Holly Petraeus is working on that issue.

  • Anonymous

    It’s my understanding that Professor Warren was a Presidential appointee, and as such, does not need Congressional approvals.

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