In a blog post from last week, Beth Noveck, Deputy Federal CTO for Open Government and head of Obama’s Open Government Initiative, lauded the release of agency open government plans, writing “innovation flourishes in an open environment, where we work collaboratively to share new ideas and ingenuity from a wide array of contributors for the betterment of our nation.”
She writes that an agency’s plan is its strategic road map to make “transparency, citizen participation and collaboration” part of its operating philosophy. Agency Open Government plans, she says, “are nothing short of an historic effort by the Executive Branch to change the culture of Washington” and are “chock full of examples of concrete efforts – not lip service – to making [sic] open government happen.”
She writes that transparency, one of the “core principles of democracy” can “foster accountability and trust in government,” through tools like the ones unveiled by the Social Security Administration on its website to help citizens find information and services online or schedule an in-office appointment.
Another transparency initiative she highlighted is the Department of Labor’s new Online Enforcement Database that consolidates workplace safety data in a searchable database with a schedule with accountable milestones for identifying and posting even more data. Additionally, DOJ is working on a FOIA Dashboard to publicize federal compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.
Deputy CTO Noveck also explained how participation breaks down barriers between government and citizens without legislative action. She notes that the EPA is making citizen participation in decision-making a key aspect of its plan. She also notes that USDA has increased its participation efforts in planning National Forestry projects.
The third goal of open government, collaboration “across agencies and with private sector partners,” seeks “strategies to generate creative thinking and new ideas to address complex problems.” She writes, “The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where I am at home [sic], created a new physical office space — we've gotten rid of walls and cubes — and work in a collaborative physical environment to foster collaboration within OSTP.” HUD has also committed to “a collaborative effort across federal, state and local government to share information” to fight homelessness.
She also cites NASA’s contributor license agreement as a model for software developers to contribute to NASA projects and NASA’s open-source initiatives as a way to remove entry barriers for developers. Deputy CTO Noveck also credits GSA with “making a lot of this collaboration possible by supplying web-based collaboration platforms to every agency that wants one.”
Click here to read the full blog post, and be sure to submit your thoughts on open government to Deputy CTO Noveck.
Also, check out our Top 10 Open Government Programs here.