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White House Issues Open Government Directive

Sets ambitious schedule to get new data out to public, set up management structure and review existing policies for impediments

Effort to inject open government into every federal agency will seek public input

For more information contact:
Meredith Fuchs - 202/994-7000

Washington, DC, December 8, 2009 - The White House today released the long awaited Open Government Directive (OGD), nearly eleven months after it was requested by President Obama in his January 21, 2009, Presidential Memorandum on Transparency. The Open Government Directive sets an ambitious schedule for agencies to accomplish a myriad of tasks designed to help make President Obama's vision for "creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government" a reality. The Directive was introduced to the public today in an 11 a.m. Webcast http://www.whitehouse.gov/live featuring the Federal Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra and the Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra.

"The Administration appears to realize that even eloquent statements of principle will not shift the bureaucracy's natural and political tendency towards secrecy," said Meredith Fuchs, the Archive's General Counsel, commenting on the Directive. "Now, OMB has set forth specific goals and timetables – essentially a road map – to mandate more openness. The only thing missing is a clear enforcement regime, but if the White House, OMB, and the heads of the agencies are serious, then they will use their authority to make these changes real. In some ways that is the test of how serious the Obama Administration is about transparency."    
For details on the Open Government Directive visit www.nsarchive.org.

For more commentary from the Archive, see The Unredacted Blog https://nsarchive.wordpress.com/.

The Open Government Directive says in its introductory language:

The three principles of transparency, participation and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government.  Transparency promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing.  Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society.  Collaboration improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the federal government, across levels of government, and between the government and private institutions.


Summary of the Open Government Timetable

Within 45 Days

Each agency must register three high-value data sets that have not previously been available online in a downloadable format via Data.gov.

Each agency must appoint a high-level official who is accountable for the quality and objectivity of internal controls over federal spending information and who also will participate in the agency's senior management council.

The Deputy Director for Management at OMB, the Federal Chief Information Officer, and the Federal Chief Technology Officer will convene a working group on transparency, accountability, participation, and collaboration which will be a forum for exchanging best practices, coordination, and innovation in the use of modern technology.

Within 60 Days

Each agency must set up an Open Government Web page that takes in public feedback on data quality and priorities and eventually includes the agency's Open Government Plans.

The Deputy Director for Management at OMB will issue a framework for the quality of federal spending information from agencies and will require plans from agencies that will be assessed to determine the need for additional guidance.

The Federal Chief Information Officer and the Federal Chief Technology Officer will establish an Open Government Dashboard which includes statistics for assessing progress.

Within 90 Days

The Deputy Director for Management at OMB will issue guidance on the use of challenges, prizes, and incentives to encourage open government.

Within 120 Days

The Deputy Director for Management at OMB will complete a strategy for federal spending transparency.

Each agency must publish an Open Government Plan based on a template attached to the Directive.

The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Policy, the Federal Chief Information Officer, and the Federal Chief Technology Officer will review OMB policies, including the Paperwork Reduction Act and privacy authorities, to determine whether there are impediments to open government and the use of technology and will issue clarifying or new guidance as necessary.


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