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White House Announces Open Government Website, Initiative

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

___________________________________________
For Immediate Release       May 21, 2009
 

White House Announces Open Government Website, Initiative
Today, the White House is announcing a groundbreaking new means of engaging the public in policymaking at www.whitehouse.gov/open and through a formal outreach published in the Federal Register. This innovative approach provides several ways to supplement the expertise of government employees with the knowledge and know-how of the American people. It also will result in a more open, accessible federal decision-making process.
In announcing the open government efforts, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, called the initiative "an unprecedented process for public engagement in policymaking."
"This will help us achieve a new foundation for our government – a foundation built on the values of transparency, accountability, and responsibility," Jarrett said. "This is a chance to brainstorm ideas, discuss the most promising ones, and collaborate with one another on next steps."
The President believes that effective policy benefits from the best available information in society, and that the expertise from a diverse segment of Americans will strengthen government policies and approaches. Using today’s tools, we can make this a reality that will benefit everyone.
Implementing the President’s Memorandum on Open Government: Fact Sheet
In the 21st Century, democracy demands an innovative approach to policymaking --
an approach built on transparency, participation, and collaboration. These foundational
qualities are the keys to creating a more effective government that taps the
creativity and diversity of an entire nation to generate solutions to the challenges we face.
The President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government:
On January 21, 2009, the President issued the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, calling for an unprecedented level of openness in government. In the memorandum, the President outlined three principles for promoting a transparent and open government: transparency, participation, and collaboration.
  • Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing;
  • Participation enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions by drawing on knowledge that is widely dispersed in society; and
  • Collaboration harnesses innovative tools, methods, and systems to promote cooperation across all levels of Government and with the private sector.
Implementing the Memorandum
The Memorandum charges the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), in coordination with OMB and GSA, to develop recommendations for an OMB Directive on Open Government.
The CTO, OMB, and GSA have recommended that on May 21st the White House invite the public to contribute its expertise to crafting recommendations on open government.
Public Engagement in Open Government
The White House is kicking off an unprecedented process for public engagement in policymaking on the White House website today at www.whitehouse.gov as well as by mail or email as per a notice published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2009.
There will be three phases of structured public dialogue:
  1. Brainstorming (May 21-May 28) - This phase will be hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration and use an innovative brainstorming platform to elicit ideas for the Open Government recommendations.
  2. Discussion (June 3-June 14) – This phase will deepen the conversation about compelling topics raised during the brainstorming via a weblog hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the General Service Administration.
  3. Drafting (June 15-June 19) – This phase will invite the public to use a wiki to draft language for recommendations collaboratively. These three phases will build upon one another and inform the development of recommendations on open government.
The public consultation will be followed by inter-agency review that will inform the development of final recommendations by the CTO, OMB and GSA. OMB will review and consider the recommendations and then issue its Open Government Directive to guide agencies in implementing open government in practice.
The goal is to experiment with mechanisms for effective citizen participation in order to complement the know-how of government employees with the knowledge and expertise of the American people.
The process of making policy must benefit from the best available information in society. Much of the expertise we need can be found among the nation’s citizens. With today’s tools, we can create a two-way dialogue between the American people and their government. We can empower the "wiki army" of citizen-experts to inform government decisionmaking.
Championing Innovation in Government
In addition to the publicly informed policymaking process, the White House is committed to transforming government through practical projects that embed the values and practices of open government. Please see the Innovations Gallery Fact Sheet for information about these important new projects.
For example, today, the CIO Council is launching "data.gov," a one-stop website for finding accessible and free government information in open formats. The Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Management and Budget are also launching "Regulations.gov Exchange," a website to improve the quality of citizen participation in Federal agency rulemaking.
With the adoption of ever more innovations, new stories will be added to the Innovations Gallery over time.
Cabinet Department Commitments
The President has welcomed the open government innovations being developed across the Government and encouraged each of his Cabinet departments with adopting more open government innovations in the coming year.
Open Government Milestones
There have been numerous open government milestones in the new administration, which are also featured on an interactive timeline on www.whitehouse.gov/open.