Open Government has been a major priority of the Obama administration since the campaign trail, and last week was the publication deadline of each agency’s open government plan. Below, we’ve listed (in no particular order) our ten favorite open government initiatives and why they’re important to government contracting.
1. Department of Commerce’s Virtual CommerceConnect
CommerceConnect is a program that streamlines access to government services and solutions designed to aid American businesses. This program’s goal is to give American businesses a single access point for all the information and services provided by the government to help a business stay competitive in the 21st century.
This program is important because it could provide a template for agencies like the SBA to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to access programs like the 8(a) certification for small businesses.
2. Department of Defense’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record
Just one year ago, on April 9, 2009, President Obama announced a DoD pilot program that could provide a template for sharing electronic health data securely: the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER). VLER will eventually contain all of a soldier’s administrative and health information beginning the day a soldier enters military service, and continuing after they leave the military. The program is a strategic priority for both the DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the seamless delivery of health care and benefits for service members and veterans could be a model for interoperability and portability of electronic health records for the general public.
3. Department of Health and Human Services’ CMS Dashboard
The CMS Dashboard is HHS’ latest interactive web tool. The dashboard is a user-friendly tool that lets the public track and analyze Medicare spending. The initial version of the dashboard lets users track and graph Medicare spending by state, by “diagnosis-related group” (DRG), and by inpatient hospital spending. Tools like these provide yet another source of data to stay informed of government priorities, and, assuming they’re updated regularly, can help businesses stay ahead of the curve in terms of pricing and technology.
4. Department of Justice’s FOIA Dashboard
DOJ’s dashboard will contain all available data on FOIA compliance by 92 Federal agencies as well as interactive tools to help keep citizens informed of the federal government’s compliance with FOIA. The Dashboard’s interactive tools will enable users to present FOIA data in easy-to-read graphics and generate statistics on FOIA compliance across the government and over time. This FOIA “report card” gives agencies a way to publicize FOIA compliance and make as much information available as possible.
5. NASA’s Open Source Software Development
NASA’s open source development lets the public access NASA’s most advanced software technology directly, and lowers the barrier to enter into space technology development by removing copyright restrictions. NASA has also made it easier for non-NASA software developers to contribute to NASA projects through its Contributor License Agreements. If open source technology takes off throughout the federal government, it could make it much easier for small or independent developers to work for the federal government.
6. GSA’s Challenges and Prizes Platform
GSA will soon launch a platform for federal agencies to use challenges, prizes and other incentives-based strategies to find new or cost-effective measures to improve open government. The platform will launch in the next 120 days and will allow the government to post problems and invite users to suggest, discuss and judge solutions. This program is like Aneesh Chopra’s defensesolutions.gov, a “new idea” portal for DoD, except with cash prizes. If it proves successful, it could become an important source of new ideas for the federal government.
7. GSA’s Citizen Engagement Platform
After the successful launch of GSA’s apps.gov, the federal cloud computing storefront, GSA announced that it is building a software service storefront for citizen engagement. The platform will allow government agencies to easily develop and deploy blogs, wikis, forums and a URL shortener to foster a dialogue with citizens. The tools are modeled after delivery best practices developed by companies like Google and GoDaddy, and an initial version of the storefront is available within GSA. A government-wide version will be released this spring.
8. OMB’s OIRA Regulatory Review Dashboard
OMB’s Office of Information and Regulator Affairs (OIRA) has posted information on regulatory reviews at RegInfo.gov and on its website, but in February, they added the “OIRA Dashboard.” The dashboard allows users to see regulatory actions under review by agency, length of review, financial impact and which stage of rulemaking the action is in.
9. OPM’s Implement Collaboration and Knowledge Management (KM) Technologies
Federal CIO Vivek Kundra will introduce new technologies to enable citizens, government employees and other agencies to access a central hub for information (like functional processes, policies and procedures,) and improve collaboration. New technologies include e-libraries, document management tools, virtual collaboration tools and other Web 2.0 technologies. This improved information-sharing will enable federal employees to learn for each other and collaborate on solutions.
10. OSTP’s R&D Dashboard
In accordance with the e-Government Act of 2002, OSTP is building on the successes of USASpending.gov with a federal R&D Dashboard, currently under construction. This process presents new challenges because, unlike USASpending.gov which draws on Form 300 reports regularly filed by Federal CIOs, there is no single form or index for R&D outlays by the federal government. OSTP hopes that making the outlay process for R&D more transparent will help the public better understand the ROI for technology research and development.