The Corner

Why Was All Ex-Im Data Removed from Data.gov?

Last summer, I mentioned that the public dataset about the Export-Import Bank that I’d been using to conduct analyses and visualizations of its activities for the Mercatus Center had been removed from Data.gov, the federal government’s information site. Thankfully, we had downloaded a clean copy of the full data before it was removed, so I can still use it to debunk the misleading claims made by Ex-Im defenders. Data.gov still listed a few other files with application data and other pdfs that could still be accessed, but the data were gone. 

Well, as it turns out, not only is that dataset still unavailable, but now there are no datasets for the Ex-Im Bank listed on Data.gov at all. Nothing. Every single file has been removed without a trace, making it hard for me to believe that this sudden disappearance was an accident.

Why would anyone intentionally remove the Ex-Im datasets? I see press releases and emails from Ex-Im Bank officials every day touting their enviable record of public service and benefits for the American people. Wouldn’t they want the public to access the datasets that would provide more details of these successes?

Now, if I worked for Ex-Im, and I were convinced that my skeptics couldn’t find even more damaging evidence against my existence in this dataset than they already have, I wouldn’t have removed it. So what gives? I certainly wouldn’t have the datasets removed if I wanted to convince Congress that we’re happy to cooperate with instructions to reform the institution.

Whatever the mysterious reason they were taken offline, the datasets need to be put back online now. Period.

Congress has a right to look at it, the public has a right to look at it, and even anti-Ex-Im people like me who will pay for Ex-Im’s future losses have a right to look at it. 

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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