Open Government Initiative Blog

  • Agencies Abuzz During Sunshine Week

    Sunshine Week launched about a decade ago as a way for journalists to draw attention to the importance of transparency in government. Over the years, open government advocates and government professionals have joined the effort to promote transparency, strengthen our democracy, and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

    As part of Sunshine Week, Federal agencies have been highlighting their open government efforts in a variety of ways.  These include engaging the public and other stakeholders in discussions around open government, hosting trainings for government workers on the importance of implementing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and proactively disclosing additional government records in the public interest.

    While we work year-round on open government efforts, this week we are excited to highlight achievements and progress made on open government goals.  Examples from this week include:

    • The State Department created a dedicated website to provide the public access to deliberations on the Keystone XL proposed pipeline project, hosting links to information about the status of the project, the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, and other project documents.
    • Agencies held training and briefing sessions with FOIA and open government professionals to learn about new open government efforts and brush up on FOIA issues including customer service and processing. For example, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence hosted the Intelligence Community FOIA Officers Information Day which included presentations to FOIA professionals in many of the 17 agencies that comprise the government intelligence community.
    • The United States formally became a candidate for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international effort aimed at increasing transparency and accountability of payments companies make and revenues governments receive for their natural resources.
    • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo to agencies directing Federal agencies to develop policies that will improve the management of and access to scientific collections that they own or support—including drilling cores from the ocean floor and glaciers, seeds, space rocks, cells, mineral samples, fossils, and more.

    We are proud of this progress, but recognize that there is always more we can do to build a more efficient, effective, and accountable government.  We look forward to the work ahead and ongoing collaborating with the public to build a more open government.

     

    Nick Sinai is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer

    Corinna Zarek is Policy Advisor for Open Government

  • 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.

  • The United States Releases its Second Open Government National Action Plan

    Since his first full day in office, President Obama has prioritized making government more open and accountable and has taken substantial steps to increase citizen participation, collaboration, and transparency in government. Today, the Obama Administration released the second U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, announcing 23 new or expanded open-government commitments that will advance these efforts even further.

    In September 2010, President Obama challenged members of the United Nations General Assembly to work together to make all governments more open and accountable to their people. To meet that challenge, in July 2011, President Obama joined the leaders of seven other nations in announcing the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – a global effort to encourage transparent, effective, and accountable governance. In two short years, the OGP has grown from eight to more than 60 member-nations that have collectively made more than 1,000 commitments to improve the governance of more than two billion people around the globe.

    Then, in September 2011, the United States released its first Open Government National Action Plan, setting a series of ambitious goals to create a more open government. The United States has continued to implement and improve upon the open-government commitments set forth in the first Plan, along with many more efforts underway across government, including implementing individual Federal agency Open Government Plans. The second Plan builds on these efforts, in part through a series of key commitments highlighted in a preview report issued by the White House in October 2013, in conjunction with the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit in London.

  • Open Government Progress

    Today in London, more than 1,000 delegates from across the globe are gathering for the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit to celebrate an unprecedented international collaboration between government and civil society to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, harness new technologies, and transform the way governments serve and engage with their citizens.

    Launched in September 2011 by President Obama and seven other country leaders, the Open Government Partnership was founded on the principle that the strength and vibrancy of nations depend on an active civil society and robust engagement between governments and their citizens to advance shared goals of peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all people. In just over two years the OGP has made incredible progress – expanding to more than 60 countries that have made more than 1000 commitments to make governments around the globe more open, accountable, and transparent to their citizens.

  • We Want Your Input on Building a More Open Government

    President Obama launched the first U.S. Open Government National Action Plan in September 2011, as part of the Nation’s commitment to the global Open Government Partnership, a multilateral initiative to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The first Plan laid out 26 concrete steps the United States would take to promote public participation in government, increase transparency, and manage public resources more effectively.

    We have fulfilled 24 of those 26 commitments, including launching the online We the People petition platform, which has been used by more than 10 million people; unleashing thousands of government data resources as part of the Administration’s Open Data Initiatives; and committing to joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, to ensure that taxpayers are receiving every dollar due for the extraction of their natural resources.

    We are proud of this progress, but recognize that there is always more we can do to build a more efficient, effective, and accountable government.  In that spirit, the Obama Administration has committed to develop a second National Action Plan on Open Government: “NAP 2.0.”

    In order to develop a Plan with the most creative and ambitious solutions, we need all-hands-on-deck. That’s why we are asking for your input on what should be in the NAP 2.0:

    1. How can we better encourage and enable the public to participate in government and increase public integrity? For example, in the first National Action Plan, we required Federal enforcement agencies to make publicly available compliance information easily accessible, downloadable and searchable online – helping the public to hold the government and regulated entities accountable. 
    • What other kinds of government information should be made more available to help inform decisions in your communities or in your lives?
    • How would you like to be able to interact with Federal agencies making decisions which impact where you live?
    • How can the Federal government better ensure broad feedback and public participation when considering a new policy? 
    1. The American people must be able to trust that their Government is doing everything in its power to stop wasteful practices and earn a high return on every tax dollar that is spent.  How can the government better manage public resources? 
    • What suggestions do you have to help the government achieve savings while also improving the way that government operates?
    • What suggestions do you have to improve transparency in government spending?
    1. The American people deserve a Government that is responsive to their needs, makes information readily accessible, and leverages Federal resources to help foster innovation both in the public and private sector.   How can the government more effectively work in collaboration with the public to improve services?
    • What are your suggestions for ways the government can better serve you when you are seeking information or help in trying to receive benefits? 
    • In the past few years, the government has promoted the use of “grand challenges,” ambitious yet achievable goals to solve problems of national priority, and incentive prizes, where the government identifies challenging problems and provides prizes and awards to the best solutions submitted by the public.  Are there areas of public services that you think could be especially benefited by a grand challenge or incentive prize? 
    • What information or data could the government make more accessible to help you start or improve your business?

    Please think about these questions and send your thoughts to opengov@ostp.gov by September 23. We will post a summary of your submissions online in the future.

    For the latest updates and information about our work on open government and opportunities to collaborate, please check back regularly on www.whitehouse.gov/open and follow @opengov on Twitter.

    Nick Sinai is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer.

     

  • Honoring Open Government and Civic Hacking Champions of Change

    Last Tuesday, the White House honored 14 Open Government and Civic Hacking Champions of Change— extraordinary Americans working to improve their communities through technology, innovation, and civic participation.

    As entrepreneurs, innovators, organizers, and community leaders, these "Champions of Change" have made a tremendous positive impact by building high-tech tools to help health workers and disaster-response crews better serve communities; piloting innovative programs to involve traditionally disengaged communities in local governance; using new technologies to enhance government transparency and collaboration; and more.

    The honorees reflect the many kinds of new and diverse opportunities to engage in public service that the digital age has unleashed—as well as the important role of our citizens in making our democracy more transparent, participatory, effective, and efficient.

    Indeed, when presenting his new management agenda earlier this month, President Obama said, "...We the people recognize that this government belongs to us, and it's up to each of us and every one of us to make it work better... We all have a stake in government success—because the government is us."

    Leaders in the public and private sectors have recognized this—and are embracing the opportunity to collaborate with talented individuals who are working to make a positive impact in their communities.