We Love it When a Plan Comes Together…

Federal agencies are currently hard at work developing revised Open Government Plans — blueprints that are published every two years, highlighting agency progress towards making their work more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, and outlining new open government commitments going forward.

This iterative, biennial process grew out of the December 2009 Open Government Directive issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which instructed executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to incorporate the principles of openness set forth in the President’s  Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which he signed on his first full day in office.

To aid agencies as they put together their 2014 Plans, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer this week shared guidance describing topic areas that agencies should work to include in their Plans, including commitments made in December as part of the U.S. second Open Government National Action Plan.

The 2014 Plans will provide an inspiring showcase of open government achievements to add to those achieved by agencies in past Plans, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s expansion of webstreamed meetings so participants across the country can hear about existing and proposed nuclear sites, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s ongoing International Space Apps Challenges, which have encouraged thousands of innovators from around the globe to create tools to improve life on earth and in space.

Open Government Plans can also generate cross-government innovation — for example, in its first Open Government Plan in 2010, the Department of Transportation included a commitment to participate with Regulation Room, a Cornell University project that harnesses social networking technologies to alert the public of rulemaking in areas they care about. Since then, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau incorporated this tool into its own open government practices, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT within the Department of Health and Human Services launched a similar program of public participation through the Planning Room, organized and operated by the Cornell eRulemaking Initiative.

In true, open government fashion, agencies solicit input from key stakeholders through in-person meetings, teleconferences, and online platforms as they update their Plans every two years. If you have suggestions for a specific agency’s Plan, reach out to it through its www.[agency].gov/open website ­— they’ll be glad to hear from you!

Nick Sinai is U.S. Deputy CTO at OSTP and Corinna Zarek is Policy Advisor for Open Government at OSTP.

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