Federal agencies release Open Government Plans

Wednesday - 4/7/2010, 4:30pm EDT

Aneesh Chopra, Norm Eisen & Tom Gavin

Click to listen to Wednesday's conference call about the Open Government Initiative with the Federal Chief Technology Officer, Special Counsel to the President, and Office of Management and Budget spokesman.

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WFED's Max Cacas

Click below to hear the report.

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By Max Cacas
Federal News Radio

Wednesday marked an important milestone for the federal Open Government Initiative.

In keeping with the President's commitment to making this White House the most open and transparent in history, all cabinet agencies released open government plans and highlighted flagship initiatives on transparency, participation and collaboration. (Find links to 30 agencies Open Government Initiatives at the bottom of this story.)

Aneesh Chopra, the White House's federal Chief Technology Officer, told reporters in a conference call today, "All federal agencies, and the executive office of the President, reported detailed plans on how they would demonstrate the President's vision for making transparency, open government and citizen participation part of the way Washington works."

Chopra says that the plans posted both on agency websites, and at White House.gov reflect last summer's process in which citizens were invited to, "Comment upon, and shape policy approaches reflected in the Open Government Directive released last Fall by OMB Director Peter Orzag."

He adds that by May 1, he and other White House advisors plan to issue an analysis of whether the individual agency Open Government plans comply with the requirements for the plans laid out in the directive.

The results will be published on an open government dashboard on the White House Web site.

Chopra adds that he is hopeful that citizens will also use the dashboard to weigh in on the agency open government plans even before White House officials have had a chance to issue their May 1 report.

There will be more than 90 of these agency Open Government plans posted on the White House Open Government website. Chopra gave us some quick thumbnail sketches of several plans submitted:

  • Department of Health and Human Services' Community Health Data Initiative: This initiative will publish online a large-scale Community Health Data Set -- a wealth of easily accessible, downloadable information data on community health care costs, quality, access, and public health. HHS will work with outside experts and citizens to take advantage of the new data to raise awareness of community health performance and spark improvements.

  • Department of Energy's Open Energy Information Initiative: DOE has launched Open Energy Information, a new open-source web platform that opens DOE resources and data to the public. The free, editable, and evolving wiki-platform will help to deploy clean energy technologies across the country and the world. OpenEI.org also will provide technical resources, including U.S. lab tools, which can be used by developing countries as they move toward clean energy deployment.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative: The VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2) will invite VA employees, private sector entrepreneurs, and academic leaders to contribute the best ideas for innovations to increase Veteran access to VA services, reduce or control costs of delivering those services, enhance the performance of VA operations, and improve the quality of service Veterans and their families receive. The VA Innovation Initiative will identify, prioritize, fund, test, and deploy the most promising solutions to the VA's most important challenges.

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development's Homelessness Prevention Resources Initiative: Many agencies and organizations struggle with the task of capturing information about the homeless. Even more difficult is the task of predicting when and where homelessness will strike. HUD believes that homelessness can be averted by combining information from multiple agencies and using the data to identify communities that may be at a tipping point towards increased homelessness. HUD will work to develop a set of tools and processes to help predict at-risk communities, allowing the Department to take proactive steps to combat it.

During the question and answer portion of the briefing, Federal News Radio asked Chopra to expand on the White House analysis of the agency open government plans that he will be leading.

"In the directive," he responded, "the last 4 or 5 pages explictly delineated the activities we are calling on the agencies to do. We will be very closely following that document. Having said that, we'll have more to say about the approach in the coming days. We have every intention of using this as an opportunity to continue the momentum and the opportunity for improvement in a number of these areas."

In addition, OMB yesterday released a number of other open government directive policy papers (below) providing guidance to agencies on topics including the use of social media, information collection under the Paperwork reduction act, increasing openness in the federal rulemaking process, and transparency in federal spending.