Investing in Open Government to Create A More Efficient and Effective Government

Ed. Note: This post is part of our Sunshine Week series, a national initiative to celebrate and focus on government transparency and open government.

Federal agencies collect enormous amounts of data about such diverse matters as automobile safety, air travel, air quality, workplace safety, drug safety, nutrition, crime, obesity, the employment market, and health care.  The Obama Administration has made it a priority to share this and other government information – what the President has called a “national asset” – to improve citizen education and decision-making, and to spur innovation and job creation.  

Federal agencies are working hard to foster open government, and we encourage you to examine what they have done. For example:

  • The Department of Homeland Security created “Virtual USA,” enabling public safety officials across all levels of government to share information in real time, and improve response to national disasters. 
  • The Department of Energy, as part of its efforts to promote clean energy, launched OpenEI.org, containing dozens of clean energy resources and data sets, including maps of worldwide solar and wind potential, information on climate zones, and energy best practices.  The Department intends to expand these resources to include on-line training and technical expert networks.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency, together with other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, developed AIRNow.gov, offering the public daily Air Quality Index forecasts and real-time Air Quality Index conditions for over 300 cities across the country as well as links to detailed state and local air quality cites.
  • And six federal agencies—the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the EPA—created Recalls.gov, to alert the public to unsafe, hazardous, or defective products and up-to-date consumer safety information.

Throughout the week, WhiteHouse.gov will continue highlighting the Administration’s commitment to open government, including the accomplishments other departments, including Health and Human Services and Transportation.  We hope you will take a moment to read these blog posts.  What unites these federal agencies is that they all consider open government to be a long-term investment in building a stronger democracy and creating a more efficient and effective government. 

Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary
Related Topics: Ethics
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