Council on Environmental Quality Open Government Plan

Updated July 8, 2010

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

President Obama’s Open Government Initiative calls on executive departments and agencies to adopt the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration in their activities to make the Federal government more accountable and more effective.  The Open Government Plan for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has been prepared pursuant to that December 8, 2009, Open Government Directive.  CEQ has named a senior official to guide OpenGov initiatives within the agency, identified “high-value data sets” for distribution via Data.gov, launched an OpenGov website, and solicited public feedback on agency openness.

The Council on Environmental Quality and OpenGov

CEQ coordinates environmental efforts and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental policies and initiatives.  The CEQ Chair is the President’s chief environmental policy advisor.  CEQ balances differing agency perspectives and encourages government-wide coordination, bringing Federal agencies, state and local governments, and other stakeholders together on matters relating to the environment, natural resources, and energy.  In addition, CEQ is the leader within the Federal community for improving the environmental footprint and performance of the Federal Government through its statutory role in enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and through Federal sustainability efforts led by the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE), housed within CEQ.

Transparency, participation, and collaboration are part of CEQ’s foundation. From its creation 40 years ago by NEPA, CEQ has been charged with promoting public participation and transparency in understanding the environmental impacts of government actions.  Moreover, the role of the CEQ Chair in advising the President on environmental policy demands collaboration with the executive agencies, departments, and the Executive Office of the President (EOP) components.  Therefore CEQ’s mission, its operations, and its culture are fundamentally aligned with the Open Government Directive.

Critical Tasks

CEQ’s Open Government Plan focuses on three key areas:

  1. Promote Open Government principles through CEQ’s collaborative leadership in the Federal environmental agenda.  CEQ will ensure that the Open Government principles are integrated into CEQ-led initiatives, including public participation.  CEQ also will work with agencies to identify potential agency-owned, high-value data sets for publication, and will integrate publication of these data sets into interagency working group deliverables.
  2. Refine, improve, and expand CEQ’s operations that support OpenGov initiatives.  CEQ will expand outreach and provide opportunities for public engagement to increase participation among stakeholders as new initiatives are developed.  CEQ also will improve public access to existing online tools and resources in support of transparency and participation.
  3. Flagship Initiative: GreenGov and Federal Sustainability.  CEQ will use web tools to expand local and regional participation in GreenGov, the program CEQ has launched to engage and involve the Federal community in greening the government.  It will publish high value data sets that are created through the implementation of Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, including the Federal greenhouse gas (GHG) protocol, Federal GHG inventory, agency performance scorecards, biennial progress report to the President, and other opportunities that will emerge from the sustainability planning process.  In addition, CEQ will seek technology tools that will make narrative data, like reports and plans, more accessible and useful, such as the information display tool that was used to help summarize GreenGov submissions for the public.  It also will expand participation to include local and state governments, nonprofits, and the private sector through online tools, the GreenGov Symposium, and an affiliated workshop series. This will begin with including a public comment period as a part of the review process for issuing a Federal protocol for greenhouse gas emissions measurement and reporting.

1.    Introduction

The structure of this Open Government Plan is based on the guidance document appended to the December 8, 2009 Open Government Directive Memorandum.   Each principle is addressed individually, recognizing that the principles overlap in practice.  The Plan closes with a comprehensive discussion of CEQ’s Flagship Open Government initiative: GreenGov and Executive Order 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.”

Through the development of this plan, CEQ has examined the current status of transparency, participation, and collaboration in its operations and program areas.  CEQ’s mission, defined by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, is aligned with transparency, participation, and collaboration.  Implementing the Open Government directive refines and clarifies its mission-driven practices and provides an opportunity for continuous improvement.

1.1    Participants

Michelle Moore, the Federal Environmental Executive, is designated the CEQ Senior Agency Official for Open Government.  The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE) has drafted this plan in consultation with others at CEQ, incorporating feedback from comments regarding the Open Government directive received through CEQ’s website and through outreach meetings.

1.2    Open CEQ

Through discussion of the three OpenGov principles and CEQ’s flagship initiative, this Plan frames the Open Government directive as an integral part of the CEQ toolbox and a mindset that influences every action - administrative and programmatic.

1.3    Continued Development of the Plan

This Open Government Plan can be thought of as a “living document,” that is, a constantly evolving overview of the status of the Open Government principles at CEQ as the agency integrates them into its core operations and as the Federal community continues to learn best practices of Open Government.  As it was in the initial development of the plan, public engagement is a very important part of the review and modification of the document and the continued evolution of Open Government culture within CEQ.  To this end, public comments, suggestions, and questions about the Plan are solicited on the main CEQ/Open website by providing to interested members of the public a dedicated Open CEQ comment form.  Additionally, a revision history has been added to the end of this document to inform the public when edits are made.
 

2.    Transparency

Transparency at CEQ has three facets: public access to programmatic information, public access to operational information, and active release and transmittal of information.  The first two focus on good website management, participation in government-wide data clearinghouses, a logical online filing schema, and proactive FOIA disclosure.  The involves press releases, blogs, the use of web sites, status reports, public meetings, and other communications and outreach mechanisms.

This section constitutes a strategic action plan that inventories data and information currently available, a strategy for identifying data and information not publicly available, and actionable items to improve the general transparency of the agency.  A comprehensive inventory of high-value reports and information being developed can be found in Appendix A.

2.1    Transparency and the CEQ Mission

At CEQ, transparency and access to information is critical and goes beyond just access to high-value data sets.  CEQ’s role in convening agencies and other stakeholders to advance the President’s environmental agenda and environmental laws means that the majority of the high-value data generated through CEQ activities will be owned and/or managed by the agencies with which CEQ cooperates.  To maximize the positive impact that the OpenGov Initiative can have on CEQ, our strategic action plan for transparency addresses CEQ-specific data and information and data and information that results from CEQ-led interagency processes.

2.2    Current Status of Information Access

2.2.1    Access to Programmatic Information

Program information at CEQ is divided into three areas: CEQ initiatives, NEPA, and OFEE.

CEQ

The CEQ website  includes programmatic information, which is primarily stored on the “Initiatives” page,  although updates and announcements are often distributed via the Chair’s blog  and Press Releases.

Where the technology is available, public meetings and internal working group meetings on these initiatives have been broadcast live through the website and archived.  Some highlights include the NEPA 40th Anniversary Symposium, regional Ocean Policy Task Force public meetings, a Presidential video celebrating the GreenGov Challenge, and an interview with CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley live from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Further information about CEQ’s website is discussed in the following section.

CEQ initiatives do not regularly generate data of the type Data.gov was intended.  Most of the time products of these initiatives are reports and recommendations based upon data previously collected by participating agencies.  These reports and recommendations are always posted on the CEQ website, as are public comments solicited in the creation of the product.

NEPA

Under NEPA, CEQ ensures that Federal agencies meet their statutory obligations. The challenge of harmonizing our economic, environmental, and social aspirations has put NEPA and CEQ at the forefront of our nation's efforts to protect the environment.

At its core, NEPA creates transparency by requiring disclosure, public comment, and coordination about the environmental impacts of Federal actions.  CEQ, with support from the Department of Energy Office of Health, Safety and Security, manages an extensive web portal for NEPA at NEPA.gov.

To modernize NEPA, CEQ has updated its public webpage, NEPA.gov (also known as NEPAnet), and is providing a wide range of information about NEPA through this portal.  CEQ continues to upgrade this site to include the status of reviews of agency NEPA guidance, Recovery Act NEPA reporting, real-time NEPA review status, and links to the database of Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) filings and statistics posted on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website.   These upgrades are designed to improve public participation and the quality of Federal agency administration of NEPA.

OFEE

The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive manages its own programmatic website and contributes to the Federal Facilities Environmental Stewardship and Compliance Assistance Center (FedCenter) website, a joint initiative with EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and the Army Corps of Engineers' Construction Engineering Research Laboratory.

The OFEE website is content-focused, containing a description of the history and responsibilities of the office, a biography of the Federal Environmental Executive, a link to E.O. 13514, a list of the agency Senior Sustainability Officers under the E.O., and links to news articles and blog posts relevant to Federal Sustainability.

FedCenter is a valuable resource for OFEE, Federal agencies complying with environmental and sustainability mandates, and the public.  The website allows the public and government employees to learn about Federal sustainability initiatives and requirements and also hosts forums and working groups such as the GreenGov Collaborative.

2.2.2    Access to Operational Information

The “About CEQ” tab on the CEQ website provides an overview of CEQ’s priorities, responsibilities and a biography of the Chair.  There is also information about how CEQ processes work, such as FOIA requests and NEPA.

2.2.3    Key Audiences

Key audiences for CEQ reports and information align with the program structure of the agency:  CEQ policy teams, NEPA oversight, and OFEE.

CEQ

The key audience for CEQ programmatic initiatives is the American public, especially a community or region uniquely affected by an environmental issue or initiative.  Irrespective of the specific initiative, other Federal agencies are also consistently key audiences and partners in CEQ activity.  CEQ’s outreach efforts already target key stakeholders (see Section 3) and project teams work with partner agencies to ensure broad access to published reports, recommendations, and databases of public comments.

NEPA

The NEPA process was developed in part to engage and inform the public on the environmental impacts of Federal actions.  As such, the key audiences for NEPA are vast.  The role that CEQ plays in the NEPA process—providing regulatory guidance, high-level agency support and review, interpretation of statute, etc.—means that while stakeholder engagement around specific EIS filings is left to the filing agency, the same broad stakeholder group is a key audience for CEQ NEPA activity.

OFEE

The focus of this office is largely within the Federal community.  OFEE has historically provided oversight and assistance to agencies complying with environmental and energy related executive order requirements.  Key audiences for OFEE data therefore are agency Senior Sustainability Officers, environmental and energy managers, green procurement officers, other White House offices whose responsibilities correspond to those at OFEE, and agency leadership at the regional facility level.

With the GreenGov program, the OFEE audience is broadening to include any interested member of the Federal or military communities as well as stakeholder communities within the public and private sectors and the general public.
 

2.2.4    Active Transmittal of Information

CEQ engages in a broad spectrum of outreach activities, ranging from outreach meetings, public stakeholder meetings, online public comment forums, formal press releases, and the Chair’s blog.

  • Press releases: CEQ issues press releases for important announcements, such as the creation of a new Task Force or the issuance of a final report.  CEQ also issues Media Advisories for events the Chair may be participating in or hosting.  An archive of press releases is available on the CEQ website.
  • Blog: The CEQ Chair writes a periodic blog post to discuss exciting updates in CEQ projects, recap trips, and make announcements.
  • Email lists: Extensive email lists are maintained by both the press office and the policy outreach office.  These lists are used to distribute press releases and press advisories that serve as invitations to reporters to press conferences, inform stakeholders of participation opportunities, and advertise public meetings.
  • Public meetings: CEQ holds face-to-face and online public meetings in order to gather feedback directly from stakeholders and local communities.

2.2.4    Obligations & Compliance

FOIA Requests

The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 (FOIA) requires each Federal agency to make documents containing information about the functions of the agency available to any person who makes a request through the FOIA process.  In an effort to assist potential requesters, FOIA directs agencies to publish descriptions of their operations, including methods by which the data can be obtained, and information about their functions, rules, procedures, and the scope of their records.  Final opinions, and policy statements and interpretations are also among the available content.  Agencies also must publish in their entirety records that are frequently requested under FOIA to help prevent the duplication of incoming requests.  This type of information constitutes the core of CEQ’s FOIA Service Center,  and most notably, its Online Reading Room.

FOIA inquiries to CEQ may be submitted electronically at efoia@ceq.eop.gov, or via fax or regular mail.  Upon initial contact, requesters are frequently directed to the FOIA Service Center for an explanation of the FOIA process or information about how to submit a proper request.  CEQ’s General Counsel oversees FOIA implementation and CEQ’s Senior Counsel serves as Chief FOIA Officer. The FOIA Public Liaison manages the day-to-day FOIA program, and communicates directly with individuals regarding the status of their requests and CEQ’s response.  Initial responses to FOIA requests are handled by the Deputy General Counsel, while disputes are handled by the Senior Counsel acting as the FOIA Appeals Officer.

Records Management

CEQ employees are trained to manage their records in accordance with the Federal Records Act.  Beginning in late 2008, CEQ assumed full responsibility for the management of its records and is in the process of formalizing an agreement with NARA.  As part of this initiative, CEQ has designated Elizabeth Moss as Federal Records Officer. Currently, CEQ follows the NARA guidance and the general records schedule, which provide a timeline for all of CEQ’s records, including electronic records.  An overview of the CEQ records schedule, as summarized by the Office of Administration of the EOP, can be found in Appendix B.  This records schedule, created in 1979 and still in effect, no longer lines up with the current administrative breakdown of the agency and insufficiently addresses types of media developed after 1979, such as electronic records.  When CEQ finalizes its updated and revised records schedule, it will be made available.

The Federal record is the foundation of CEQ’s public information activities and the FOIA process.  Archivists address each Federal record according to its “life cycle”—where the record falls within that life cycle dictates its appropriate treatment at that particular time.  For example, a Federal employee may create a record in the course of his or her work day.  That record remains active as long as it is useful and/or timely to CEQ.  When the record is no longer required, it shifts to an inactive status and, depending on the need to retain its accessibility; it may be destroyed or retired for eventual transfer to the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  Active records typically reside with individual staff, although the Office of General Counsel maintains a central filing block.  Inactive records are stored off-site, but can be retrieved within a matter of days.

Congressional Inquiries

The CEQ Legislative Affairs team handles all congressional inquiries for CEQ.  Congressional inquiries, concerns and questions come through mail, phone or email.  Regardless of how the inquiry is sent to CEQ, the Legislative Affairs team works to provide a proper response in a timely manner. On behalf of CEQ, the Legislative Affairs team also proactively engages with Congress about CEQ initiatives and announcements.  For example, the Legislative Affairs team plans briefings for House and Senate offices to learn about CEQ actions.  The team also schedules phone briefings for congressional staff that have a specific interest in a particular initiative.  Additionally, CEQ Legislative Affairs works closely with counterparts from Federal departments that focus on energy and environmental policies, ensuring synergy among the various Congressional Affairs teams.

CEQ issues press releases containing the prepared testimony of its officials who testify before Congress.  Testimony can be found on the CEQ website under the press releases tab.

Existing Open Government Initiatives

CEQ participates in both Data.gov and Regulations.gov.  As of April 27, 2010, CEQ had posted two data sets on Data.gov, with additional data sets being processed for posting. CEQ also had posted 18 documents on Regulations.gov—17 notices and one proposed rule.  Although four of the postings solicit comments, they require comments in writing or submission through the CEQ website.

CEQ/Open Website

The CEQ Open Government website is: http://www.whitehouse.gov/open/around/eop/ceq.

2.3    Proposed action

CEQ posts information about its major initiatives, projects, and NEPA on its website.  However, the organization and accessibility of information can be improved to make it easier to use and, therefore, more transparent to CEQ’s stakeholders and to the public.  CEQ will undertake the following actions.

Improving Access to Information

Focus the CEQ/Open website as a portal to transparency, participation, and collaboration at CEQ.  CEQ plans to improve accessibility, post available operations information, and provide links to data, descriptions of how CEQ complies with reporting and FOIA requests, and participation opportunities.  Specifically, CEQ proposes to undertake the following activities:

  • Accessibility: Make link from Whitehouse.gov/CEQ DONE
  • Contacts: List Michelle Moore’s name and contact information as Senior Agency Official DONE
  • Data: Create section on “high-value” datasets; create direct link to datasets; and add links to supporting documentation and Data.gov DONE
  • Reporting/FOIA:  Add links to FOIA page and most recent annual FOIA report; DONE
  • add statement “For older FOIA reports, please visit the CEQ FOIA site/reading room”, with a link; DONE: The intention of this action has been met with different language
  • provide status of CEQ FOIA backlog; DONE
  • and add a list of FOIA requests to agency  with a mechanism to maintain its currency. DONE
  • Participation (see Section 3): Explore implementation of a crowd-sourcing forum for future public comment opportunities; DONE: An internal review of available options identified a Public Comment form to be the best technology for meeting the objectives of the Open Government Directive
  • create email addresses for each program group; add a “Get Involved” section that links to all CEQ initiatives with public comment opportunities. DONE

Focus on increasing public awareness of CEQ and CEQ activity by expanding the use of the Chair’s blog to provide regular updates on program activities. IN PROGRESS

Continue to expand the “CEQ Proactive Disclosure Reading Room.” IN PROGRESS

Work with the CEQ Records and FOIA Officer to add information about meeting existing records management requirements, FOIA request procedures, and Congressional requests for information.   In addition, post CEQ public records from its inception 40 years ago. IN PROGRESS

Informing the public of significant actions

CEQ will continue to regularly publicize significant actions of the agency.  CEQ has a very active outreach office that has numerous tools with which it can interface with the public (see Section 2.2.4).  Press releases, blog posts, conference calls, and targeted stakeholder emails will continue to be used to effectively and transparently announce CEQ initiatives, publications, opportunities for public comment, and public meetings, among other actions of the agency.
 

Data management

CEQ will make proactive identification and disclosure of high-value data a part of the planning process for its initiatives as well as posting its own internal data sets. CEQ’s role is process, not product, focused as it relates to these data sets.  Proactively integrating the OpenGov principles and goals into CEQ’s work will support the broader Open Government directive.

CEQ-facilitated initiatives employ raw data and information to develop reports and other deliverables.  As part of the planning process for these initiatives, the appropriate working group and/or partner agencies will proactively identify which of these data and other aspects of the initiative might be defined as high value and could be made public. For example, CEQ is working with the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a public website to provide easy access to information about the implementation of the interagency Memorandum of Understanding regarding coordination in Federal agency review of electric transmission facilities on Federal land.

Fostering public use of information

Simply posting information on the CEQ website is not sufficient to meet the President’s Open Government objectives.  CEQ is committed to providing information in the format most useful to the public and of the type most requested.  Feedback on the content and format of available information should be provided through the appropriate comment form on the CEQ website (see next section).
 

3.    Participation

3.1    Existing Participatory Activities

Public engagement
The “Initiatives” tab on the CEQ website  offers multiple opportunities for public engagement, including public commenting forums and public meetings.  The public comment section also offers the opportunity for the public to read each other’s comments.  CEQ will continue to focus its public engagement efforts on public awareness of these opportunities.

CEQ has offered the opportunity for public comment for many of its initiatives; the current initiatives seeking public comment include:

  • Steps to Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA
  • Climate Change Adaptation Task Force
  • Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force

Technological tools

CEQ uses several online tools through the White House, CEQ, and FedCenter websites.  These include the public comment tool on the CEQ website and email comments submitted to chair@ceq.eop.gov and FN-CEQ-OpenGov@ceq.eop.gov.  The Whitehouse.gov “Contact the White House” page provides opportunities for interaction with CEQ leadership and staff.  The GreenGov Challenge used tools for gathering input and “word clouds” as an information display tool for the final report.  The GreenGov Collaborative found on FedCenter.gov, provides a forum for Federal employees to share ideas and strategies, ask questions, and recruit allies in their efforts to create a more sustainable Federal government.

3.2    Proposed action

CEQ will focus on increasing opportunities for participation by proactively identifying and coordinating individual agency Open Government efforts that support CEQ-led interagency efforts, and by expanding its own outreach activities that support public engagement processes. 

Increased outreach

Public participation is fundamental to CEQ mission activity.  As evidenced by the large number of initiatives that have public comment periods and public meetings, public input is seen as crucial to a well-balanced, effective environmental policy.  To increase the number of informed comments and earnest participants in the meetings, CEQ will use the CEQ/Open website to shine a spotlight on existing and upcoming comment periods and public meetings.

Policy/culture change

CEQ will introduce the OpenGov participatory processes into interagency groups.  In addition, through its Flagship Initiative (see section 4 below), CEQ’s OFEE team will engage the Federal and military communities at the regional and local levels in GreenGov and the effort to achieve the goals of E.O. 13514.
Use of technology tools

Use of technology tools

CEQ will use two new technology tools to expand participation. First, CEQ will institute a new, program-level feedback mechanism which will include program-specific email lists, e.g., landwater@ceq.eop.gov, greenjobs@ceq.eop.gov.  Second, CEQ will expand the online participatory forum that is the foundation of The GreenGov Collaborative to engage Federal vendors and suppliers and stakeholders. 

3.3    Barriers to increased participation

CEQ does not have on-staff technology expertise and shares web infrastructure with the broader EOP or with other agencies participating in the interagency efforts led by CEQ. CEQ’s ability to identify and deploy new technology tools to expand participation is therefore tied to its partnerships with other agencies.  In addition, as a small organization, CEQ has limited staff capacity to manage multiple concurrent outreach programs.

4.    Collaboration

Collaborative leadership and interagency facilitation is a core of CEQ’s mission, operation, and culture.  Collaborative efforts can be categorized as one or more of the following:

  • Collaboration within the agency
  • Collaboration across agencies
  • Collaboration across government
  • Public/private partnerships

4.1    Existing collaboration

Representatives from Federal agencies, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and private sector organizations are convened by CEQ to advance the President’s environmental agenda and to fulfill CEQ’s responsibilities under NEPA.

Each CEQ project currently underway is a collaborative effort with other government agencies.  Descriptions of all major CEQ initiatives can be found under the “Initiatives” page of the CEQ website.  These initiatives include:

  • Recovery Through Retrofit, which is co-led by the Office of the Vice President and includes 11 departments and agencies with substantial engagement of trade groups, labor unions, real estate interests, and state and regional governments.
  • Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which is chaired by CEQ and includes 26 agencies with collaborative efforts involving coastal state governments.
  • Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which is jointly led by CEQ, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and includes more than 20 Federal agencies.
  • The Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability, which is jointly convened with OMB, and includes all Executive departments and agencies.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force, which is co-chaired by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, and includes 14 departments and agencies.
  • America’s Great Outdoors is led jointly with CEQ, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, and involving eight other Federal agencies, many state, local and Tribal governments, and private and non-profit advocacy groups.

Technology Tools & Innovation

The collaborative initiatives use technology platforms and innovative engagement strategies within the scope of their mission.  For instance, OMB MAX, an intragovernment, flexible, online workspace, similar to a wiki website, is used extensively in the Oceans and Sustainability programs.  OFEE, which is running the sustainability efforts, also uses FedCenter to facilitate collaborative idea generation and targeted stakeholder engagement.  In addition, collaboration is helped by the use of teleconferencing and other communication technologies.
 

4.2    Proposed action

Collaboration is the essence of CEQ’s mission, and few opportunities were identified to increase the degree of collaboration while staying within statutory ethics boundaries such as those outlined by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).  CEQ’s proposed new collaborative efforts will focus on its flagship initiative, GreenGov, and are discussion in Section 5.  GreenGov and the associated implementation efforts of Executive Order 13514 will:

  • involve unprecedented cross-departmental efforts within agencies as they strive to meet the President’s sustainability goals,
  • utilize online collaboration tools to develop communities of practice around the Federal government,
  • leverage Presidential Awards to stimulate innovation, and
  • challenge Federal agencies to work with the communities within which they operate in order to stimulate a clean energy economy, promote principles of healthy urban development, and identify best practices in environmentally-friendly operation.
     

5.    Flagship Initiative: GreenGov

CEQ’s Open Government Flagship Initiative is GreenGov, which has been developed to support the implementation of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.  E.O. 13514 specifically calls for transparency, participation, and collaboration as fundamental to reaching its goals.

5.1    Overview

E.O. 13514 challenges the Federal agencies to lead by example towards a clean energy economy, prioritize activities with the highest return on investment as measured in social and economic costs and benefits, and transparently report progress and achievements. 

CEQ has created "GreenGov" which uses Open Government tools to foster a self-organizing Federal community to reach these goals. GreenGov includes an online participatory forum to solicit “grassroots” ideas to green the government, a forum for cross-agency sharing of best practices, a conference, and an awards program recognizing excellence in many aspects of sustainable operations. Developing the tools, guidance, and recommendations that will be needed to support this community creates ongoing opportunities for stakeholder and public participation. Transparency of the resulting work supports accountability for reaching the goals set by the Sustainability E.O.

5.2    Collaboration

E.O. 13514 has government-wide ramifications and is a fundamentally collaborative effort.  While each agency will be evaluated individually, specific area recommendations are developed by multi-agency working groups, training is conducted collaboratively, the steering committee is interagency, and grassroots participation is enabled through an online forum called the GreenGov Collaborative.

Implementing the E.O. is coordinated through the Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability, a body made up of the Senior Sustainability Officials from every agency.  This body allows agency leadership the opportunity to support each other’s initiatives, discuss management best practices, and critically evaluate program progress and effectiveness.  The Steering Committee is co-convened by CEQ and OMB and chaired by the Federal Environmental Executive. When technology support is available, these meetings are broadcast live on the web and archived for subsequent viewing.

The E.O. recognizes that the knowledge and expertise needed for successful implementation does not reside in any single government office.  CEQ and OMB coordinate the overall effort, but individual program areas have been assigned to multi-agency working groups.  These include:

  • Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability (E.O. sec. 3).
  • Sustainable Locations for Federal Facilities Recommendations Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting Recommendations
  • Federal Local Transportation Logistics Workgroup
  • Federal Fleet Management Workgroup
  • Regional Implementation Plan

5.3    Transparency

The following represent specific commitments to transparency through the GreenGov program. It is important to note, however, that as GreenGov develops and its community of practice grows, new opportunities to share information will emerge. Therefore, CEQ commits to remain alert to new high value data sets that may emerge from the program in order to share them with the public.

  • Federal GHG protocol: The Sustainability E.O. requires CEQ and OMB to issue a Federal protocol for measuring and reporting GHG pollution as guidance, based on recommendations developed by an interagency working group led by DOE. As a part of the review process, CEQ will work with OMB to integrate a public comment period into the review process, both to exhibit transparency and to broaden participation.
  • Federal GHG inventory: In 2011, the Federal government will publish, for the first time, a Federal GHG inventory. This inventory will be updated annually to report on progress towards meeting the GHG pollution reduction targets set by the Sustainability E.O.
  • Agency Scorecards: CEQ will work with OMB to complete and publish annual scorecards on agency performance toward meeting the E.O. goals. These goals were included in the Analytical Perspectives published with the President’s 2011 Budget.
     
  • Report to the President: Every two years, CEQ’s Office of the Federal Environmental Executive will produce and publish a Report to the President on the status of agency efforts. This report will be made available to the public online through the CEQ and FedCenter web sites.

CEQ has already adopted the Open Government principle of transparency in its approach to the collaborative nature of the E.O.  As discussed in section 2, CEQ owns very little of the data generated from the initiatives in which it participates, but CEQ is committed to encouraging its agency partners to post that which they own.  In the Sustainability E.O., this commitment is evident, as CEQ is working with all agencies to post their GHG reduction targets and Sustainability Plans.

5.4    Participation

CEQ recognizes that engaging the vast community of Federal and military employees in the E.O. implementation process is key to its success.  The GreenGov Challenge, a solicitation to all Federal and military personnel to submit their ideas on “greening” the government.  The community then voted for their best ideas, and the final report was presented to the Sustainability Steering Committee as seed ideas for agency initiatives. GreenGov engaged more than 14,000 Federal civilian and military employees, who submitted 5,300 ideas and more than 165,000 votes.

CEQ will build upon this successful program to broaden participation in Federal sustainability efforts by engaging more members of the Federal community and reaching out to stakeholders and the public. The following comprise the major GreenGov components to expand participation.

  • GreenGov Collaborative: Hosted by FedCenter.org, it was launched February 18th to be an online community of Federal employees dedicated to answering the President’s call to put the GreenGov Challenge ideas into action.
  • GreenGov Symposium: To be held in 2010, in Washington, DC with the Federal community, Senior Sustainability Officers (SSOs), agency budget officers, and sustainability practitioners.
  • Workshops: Ongoing workshops focused on specific areas of practice such as sustainable building, greenhouse gas accounting, and green purchasing will be presented throughout the year. These workshops will bring Federal practitioners together with leadership from the private sector, nonprofit community, and other governmental organizations to share knowledge and to create opportunities for professional development. Every effort will be made to integrate collaborative technologies like webinar tools to broaden the opportunity for participation.

5.5    Measuring Success

Measuring the success of the GreenGov program in reaching its broader goal of fundamentally and holistically incorporating the goal of sustainability into Federal operations is not easy to capture.  It requires a determination of difficult-to-answer questions:  How effective is the Sustainability E.O. at introducing “sustainability” as a value in Federal Government decision making?  Do Federal employees grasp the environmental, economic, and social ramifications of government actions?  Is government investment in the built environment, contractor community, and product procurement contributing to the growth of the clean energy economy?  Are the collaborative, transparency, and participative mechanisms in the E.O. functioning to effectively tap into a widely-dispersed set of best practices of sustainable operations?

A mechanism for evaluating the progress of the agencies in reaching their mandated and self-declared targets is built into the E.O. itself:  the OMB scorecard.  The scorecard process will evaluate each E.O. component individually as well as overall agency progress towards its goals.

The scorecards are our best tool for tracking the success of GreenGov and they are also an important means for holding individual agencies and the Federal government itself accountable for meeting these goals.  Experience to date with OMB scorecards has demonstrated their efficacy in engaging the agencies and moving Federal sustainability activities forwards.

6.    CEQ Open Government Plan Revision History

  • 1.0: April 7, 2010
  • 1.1: April 22, 2010

Appendix A:    CEQ Report & Data Inventory

This inventory is under construction and references content on the website at the time of Plan revision.  As the websites are edited, it is possible that some of the content and links of this inventory will become out of date.  The Open CEQ team will strive to keep the inventory as accurate as possible.

CEQ Website

  • Congressional testimony of the CEQ Chair, Nancy Sutley, on Jan. 27, 2010 (Senate HSGAC); Feb. 25, 2010 (Senate ENR); May 18, 2010 (Senate EPW).
  • Interagency Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force:  Public Comments (and comment form); details of the May 6, 2010 public meeting in Washington, DC, including meeting agenda, video, presentations, and transcript.
  • Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration:  Roadmap (pdf)
  • New Proposed NEPA Guidance and Steps to Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA:  video of the symposium celebrating the 40th anniversary of NEPA and CEQ; Draft Guidance on the Consideration of Greenhouse Gases; Draft Guidance Clarifying Appropriateness of “Findings of No Significant Impact” and Specifying When There is a Need to Monitor Environmental Mitigation Commitments; Draft Guidance Clarifying Use of Categorical Exclusions; Comments on the NEPA Draft Guidance
  • Review of MMS NEPA Procedures for OCS Oil and Gas Exploration and Development:  Federal Register Notice; letter from Chair Sutley announcing review; comment submission form
  • Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance – E.O. 13514:  text of the E.O.; examples of agency sustainability actions
  • The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force:  President Obama’s Proclamation on National Oceans Month; details of public meetings in Anchorage, Alaska, August 21, 2009 (media advisory, agenda, video, transcript); San Francisco, California, September 17, 2009 (media advisory, agenda, video, transcript); Providence, Rhode Island, September 24, 2009 (media advisory, agenda, video, transcript);Pacific Islands, September 29, 2009 (media advisory, agenda, video); New Orleans, Louisiana, October 19, 2009 (media advisory, agenda, transcript); Cleveland, Ohio, October 29, 2009 (media advisory, agenda, video, transcript); public comments on the Task Force; details of expert briefings to the Task Force; Task Force Interim Report and public comments;  Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Report and public comments
  • Recovery Through Retrofit:  RTR Report; public comments
  • Updated Principles and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies:  Proposed revisions; 2008 work by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; public comments; information about the July 13, 2009 webinar about the revision, including the July 1, 2009 Federal Register Notice; webinar presentation; webinar attendees; and public comments on the webinar.
  • Climate Change Adaptation Task Force:  Interim Progress Report; public comments; description of other adaptation efforts
  • Proactive Disclosure Reading Room (providing links to all documents available in the reading room is impractical.  Please visit the reading room to find specific documents in the following categories.):  FOIA resources; CEQ’s FOIA Improvement Plan under EO 13392; Annual FOIA Reports 2001 – 2009; FOIA responses; environmental laws and regulations; legislative history of NEPA; NEPA publications; CEQ Chief FOIA Officer report, 2010; CEQ Annual Reports 1970 – 1997; ARRA Section 1609(c) reports to Congress

NEPA.gov

NEPA.gov (or NEPAnet) is a very extensive website full of NEPA-related resources.  Below is a listing of some of the highest-value of these resources, providing website links where the website hierarchy goes more than two or three layers deep.

Current Developments

  • Review of MMS NEPA Procedures for OCS Oil and Gas Exploration and Development:  Federal Register Notice
  • NEPA’s 40th Anniversary:  Presidential Proclamation; symposium video
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 & NEPA:  Section 1609 of ARRA requiring a report to Congress on the status and progress of NEPA reviews for Recovery Act funded projects and activities; CEQ Reports to Congress on May 18, 2009 (including detailed spreadsheets from each agency); August 3, 2009; November 2, 2009; February 1, 2010; and May 3, 2010
  • New Agency NEPA Procedures:  Proposed and Recently Implemented NEPA Procedures, including applicable Federal Register Notices; Federal NEPA Procedures from 2000 to 2009
  • EIS Filings:  link to EPA EIS database
  • New CEQ NEPA Guidance:  Draft guidance documents for Establishing and Applying Categorical Exclusions (.doc), Mitigation and Monitoring (.doc), Considering Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change (.doc)

Laws and Executive Orders

  • Laws:  The NEPA Statute; Clean Air Act, Section 309
  • Executive Orders:  39 Executive Orders related to NEPA spanning four decades, from E.O. 11514 (3/1970) to E.O. 13423 (1/2007)

CEQ Regulations and Guidance

  • CEQ Regulations for Implementing NEPA: Complete copy of the Regulations; NEPA Implementation Procedures, Appendices I – Federal and Federal-State Agency national Environmental Policy Act Contacts, II – Federal and Federal-State Agencies with Jurisdiction by Law or Special Expertise on Environmental Quality Issues, and III – Federal and Federal-State Agency Offices for Receiving and Commenting on Other Agencies' Environmental Documents
  • CEQ Guidance:  Memoranda and guidance documents for heads of Federal Departments and Agencies, including a recent Memorandum on Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act, 12 May 2010

CEQ Publications

  • Citizens Guide to NEPA [.pdf]
  • Collaboration Handbook [.pdf]
  • NEPA & Environmental Management Systems (EMS) [.pdf] and Overview
  • Cumulative Effects:  Table of Contents; Executive Summary; Chap. 1 – Introduction to Cumulative Effects Analysis; Chap. 2 – Scoping for Cumulative Effects; Chap. 3 – Describing the Affected Environment; Chap. 4 – Determining the Environmental Consequences of Cumulative Effects; Chap. 5 – Methods, Techniques, and Tools for Analyzing Cumulative Effects; References; Appendix A; Appendix B
  • Incorporating Biodiversity [.pdf]
  • Modernizing NEPA Implementation:  [.html]; [.pdf]; Matrix of Recommendations to CEQ; Errata Sheet for Printed Report
  • NEPA Effectiveness Study [.pdf]

CEQ Reports

  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act NEPA Reporting (same as above):  Section 1609 of ARRA requiring a report to Congress on the status and progress of NEPA reviews for Recovery Act funded projects and activities; CEQ Reports to Congress on May 18, 2009 (including detailed spreadsheets from each agency); August 3, 2009; November 2, 2009; February 1, 2010; and May 3, 2010
  • Reports on Cooperating Agency Status:  Report; Attachment 1a (EIS Compilation); Attachment 2b (EA Compilation)
  • Annual Environmental Quality Reports:  Reports from 1970 – 1997 with a few missing
  • CEQ NEPA Task Force, 2002: Website containing many details of Task Force

Federal Agency NEPA Information

  • Federal Agency NEPA Procedures:  list; Federal NEPA Procedures from 2000 to 2009
  • Federal NEPA Contacts:  list
  • Federal Agency NEPA Websites:  list
  • Federal Agency Digital NEPA Documents:  USDA Rural Utilities Service; US Department of Energy; US DOI Minerals Management Service; US DOT Federal Highway Administration; Federal Emergency Management Agency; US Fish and Wildlife Service; General Services Administration; Housing and Urban Development; Tennessee Valley Authority

State Information

  • States with NEPA-like Environmental Planning Requirements:  Details of all states with NEPA-like requirements
  • State Associations:  List of state associations

Legal Corner

  • Legislative History of NEPA:  Congressional White Paper on a National Policy for the Environment; House of Representatives Report on NEPA; Senate Report on NEPA; Conference Report
  • NEPA Litigation Surveys:  2001 – 2008
  • Case Law:  CEQ’s NEPA Case Law Updates 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001; National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) NEPA Case Law Review, including Major Cases Interpreting NEPA and Recent NEPA Cases from 2003, 2004 and 200

Other NEPA Information

  • Tribal Information:  CEQ Guidance and Executive Orders Related to Native Americans; Native American Websites; Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • NEPA Non-Governmental Organizations:  Environmental Impact Assessment Committee, American Bar Association; National Association of Environmental Professionals; International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)
  • International Environmental Impact Assessment:  Extensive list of EIA agencies/offices in other nations and links to international EIA and Non-Governmental Organizations
  • NEPA Training Compendium:  details of nationally available NEPA training courses
  • Environmental Impact Statements:  Where & How to File an EIS (EPA); EISs Available for Review (EPA); EIS Library (Northwestern); Number of EISs Filed 1970 – 2007; Number of EISs Filed with EPA by Federal Agencies 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Alternative Arrangements in case of emergencies [.pdf]
  • Formal Referrals
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Data Links:  Data.gov; Science in your Watershed

OFEE.gov

Most of the reports and data that have been accessible through OFEE.gov in the past have been migrated to FedCenter.gov, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The information that remains on OFEE.gov is inventoried here.

  • List of Agency Senior Sustainability Officers under E.O. 13514
  • E.O. 13514 training presentation, February 2010
  • Winners of the fourth annual Electronics Reuse and Recycling Campaign
  • OFEE Reports to the President:  Leading by Example 2004 – 2006, 2002 – 2003, 2000 – 2001; Greening the Government
  • Old documents:  E.O. 13423 Implementing Instructions (2007); E.O. 13423 Guidance on Waste-to-Energy (2008); Self Declaration Protocol (2004); Federal Commitment to Green Building (2003); Implementing E.O. 13101 (2001); Recycling for the Future (1998); Guidance on Landscaping (1995)
  • GreenGov: Final report; all the ideas; Collaborative

Appendix B:    CEQ Records Schedule Summary (1979)

Records Common to All Offices—All Temporary

  • Office Reference Material:  Cut-off every 2 years; destroy on site when 2 years old or when no longer needed
  • Personal Papers:  destroy when no longer needed
  • National Environmental Policy Act Guidelines/Regulations:  destroy on site when regulations have been issued
  • Annual Report Files:  destroy on site when Annual Report has been issued
  • Reports and Studies Files:  destroy on site after report or study has been issued
  • Contract Files:  destroy on site when contract is terminated or completed
  • White House Correspondence Files:  Cut-off every 2 years; destroy on site when 2 years old
  • Legislative/Information Files:  Cut-off at end of each Congress; destroy on site when 2 years old or when no longer needed
  • Congressional Correspondence Files:  Cut-off every 2 years; destroy on site when 2 years old or when no longer needed
  • Public Correspondence Files:  Cut-off every 2 years; destroy on site when 2 years old
  • Administrative Files:  Cut-off every 2 years; destroy on site when 2 years old or when no longer needed

Records of the Chairman—All Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Central Agency Correspondence Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Chronological File:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Council’s Members—Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Office of Executive Director—Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Office of Deputy Executive Director—Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Section 309/NEPA Referral Case Files (NEPA Oversight):  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer closed case files to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Office of General Counsel—Permanent and Temporary

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Environmental Impact Statements Files—NOT APPLICABLE:  As of Jan.1, 1978, this function was transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency by Reorganization Plan 1, 1977     
  • Litigation Files:  Cut-off every 2 years, retire to EOP depository when 4 years old, send to FRC and destroy when 5 years old

Records of the Environmental Health and Toxic Substances Office (Toxics and Environmental Protection)—Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off when action completed; transfer completed action issues to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Toxic Substances Strategy Committee Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Energy and Resource Recovery Office (Air, Transportation, and Energy)—Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off when action has been completed; transfer completed action issues to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Office of Environmental Data and Monitoring—Permanent

Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Economics and Pollution Control Office (Sustainable Development)—Permanent

  • Subject Files for Economic Issues:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Pollution Control Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer completed action issues to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the International Affairs and Oceans Office (Global Environment; Oceans, Coasts, and Environmental Policy)—Permanent

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Natural Resources Office—Permanent 

  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer completed action issues to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Records of the Land Use and Wildlife Office (Fishers and Coastal Issues  1997-2000):  Permanent
  • Subject Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer completed action issues to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Office of Public Information—-Permanent

  • Information Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Annual Report Files:  Cut-off every year;  transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Reports and Studies Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; transfer to EOP depository and FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years
  • Guidelines and Regulations Files:  Cut-off every 4 years; retire to EOP depository 4 years after each revision, transfer to FRC every 4 years, offer to NARA after 12 years

Records of the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs—Temporary

  • Public and Congressional Information Files:  Cut-off every 2 years; destroy on site when 2 years old or when no longer needed

Records of the Administrative Office—Temporary

  • Budget Policy Files:  Cut off every fiscal year; destroy on site when 4 years old
  • Budget Estimates and Justifications Files:  Cut off every fiscal year; destroy on site when 4 years old

Key:

  • EOP:  Executive Office of the President
  • NARA:  National Archives and Records Administration
  • FRC:  Federal Records Center
  • (Script font):  Indicates notes written in hand on records schedule