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Administration Launches Comprehensive Open Government Plan

Public Provides Thousands of Ideas to Spark New Administration Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Obama Administration’s work to change how Washington does business, the White House Tuesday issued the Open Government Directive requiring federal agencies to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public.  The Administration also released an Open Government Progress Report to the American People and previewed a number of other openness commitments that are poised to be released during the next two days.

The directive, released by the Office of Management and Budget, sets an unprecedented standard for government agencies, insisting that they achieve key milestones in transparency, collaboration, and participation.

“The President has been clear from day one in office: the federal government must break down the barriers between it and the people it’s supposed to serve.  Today’s announcement will help to make government more open, transparent, and accountable to bridge the gap between the American people and their government,” White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter R. Orszag said.

OMB, at the President’s direction, released the Open Government Directive that requires agencies to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations to the public.  The White House unveiled the directive on a live webchat hosted by federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

The directive stems largely from the unprecedented Open Government Initiative, coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the summer, in which the Administration reached out directly to the American people for specific policy recommendations.  Thousands of citizens participated in the online forums and offered ideas on how to transform the government into a more transparent, accountable, participatory operation.

In addition to the directive, the Administration on Tuesday released the Open Government Progress Report to the American People – an analysis of the steps already taken to increase transparency and a look at the actions on the horizon.  Every Cabinet department is launching new open-government projects that will spark significant expansion in public accountability and access.  Details on those projects will be released tomorrow.

“The American people know best what their government should do for them. It’s fitting that our open government directive has been significantly shaped by the collective wisdom of the American people,” Orszag said.

The Open Government Directive, called for by President Obama on his first full day in office, puts accountability and accessibility at the center of how the federal government operates.  It instructs agencies to share information with the public through online, open, accessible, machine-readable formats.  Agencies are to inventory existing information and establish a timeline for publishing them online to increase agency accountability and responsiveness; improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations; further the core mission of the agency; create economic opportunity; or respond to need and demand as identified through public consultation. 

The directive also requires that annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports be published online in machine-readable formats, and demanding milestones for improving data quality and records management.

Second, it aims to instill the values of transparency, participation, and collaboration into the culture of every agency by requiring every agency to formulate an Open Government Plan and website.  Specifically, each agency will be required to develop its own, unique roadmap in consultation with the American people and open government experts, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach.  Once again, these ideas came directly from the public’s suggestions. 

To assist agencies in the process of creating a plan, the White House will establish a forum and online dashboard to share best practices and track progress on transparency, participation, and collaboration, including how to take advantage of the expertise and insight of people both inside and outside the federal government.

Moving forward, OMB, in consultation with the Chief Technology Officer and the Chief Information Officer, will review government-wide information policies, such as the Paperwork Reduction Act and the federal cookies policy that may need updating or clarifying to allow agencies to utilize new technologies that promote open government fully. 

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