Earlier today, the OMB Director Peter Orszag, issued an 11-page directive on making the government more transparent. The directive has been long-awaited, as the Obama administration originally set a target date of May 21, 2009 for the release of these regulations. The directive provides a sort of “strategic plan” for making government information more accessible and timely. Here are some key steps government agencies will be required to take according to the directive:
Publish information online.
Agency information should be available online where practical and posted in a timely manner. Where possible, the data should be searchable and downloadable. Agencies should proactively disseminate information rather than waiting for specific FOIA requests. Within 40 days, each agency should publish three “high value” datasets that have not been published previously. Within 60 days, agencies must create an open government webpage on http://www.%5Bagency%5D.gov/open to house transparency information.
Improve the quality of government information.
Agencies must make sure their information conforms to OMB requirements. Within 45 days, agencies should designate a senior official to be responsible for data quality. Within 120 days, OMB will issue guidance on a longer-term comprehensive strategy for Federal spending transparency which will identify the method for agencies to report quarterly on their information quality improvements.
Create & institutionalize a culture of openness.
Within 120 days, each agency will develop and publish on its Open Government Webpage an Open Government Plan. Within 60 days, the Federal CIO and CTO will create an Open Government Dashboard to house each agency’s Open Government Plan, along with aggregate statistics. Within 45 days, OMB will create a transparency working group made up of senior level program and management officials from throughout the government.
Create an enabling policy framework.
Within 120 days, OMB policies will be reviewed to identify any impediments to openness as well as new enabling technologies.
We applaud the efforts here in general. Moving government agencies from being reactionary with their information (only releasing what is required) to proactive (a culture of openness) is no small feat. No doubt many cans of worms will be opened as transparency increases and data is analyzed. However, agencies, taxpayers and government contractors will all benefit from this information in general. Let’s hope these goals can be met and the administration will be “transparent” in its progress toward them.
All the best,
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