White House unveils open government directive

The Obama administration on Tuesday officially unveiled its Open Government directive (pdf), a document that charges each federal agency with making high value data publicly available and with quickly coming up with formal open government plans.

The announcement follows up on President Obama’s first executive act–the issuing on January 21 of his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. That document set forth, among other things, that, “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

The administration’s Chief Information Officer Aneesh Chopra and Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra on Tuesday appeared together in a live Webcast to spell out the new directive and to answer questions from the public:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Among the major points of the directive it:

• Requires federal agencies to make a minimum of three “high-value” data sets available within 45 days. An example, they said, was data that was released on Data.gov earlier this year by the Federal Aviation Administration about the on-time performance of commercial airline flights, and which was subsequently used by a member of the public to create Flyontime.us.

• Directs that within 60 days, the White House will launch a dashboard on Whitehouse.gov that will be used to hold each agency accountable for the contents of the directive.

• Commits each federal agency to launching its own open government Web site.

• Says that within 90 days, agencies will receive guidance from the federal Office of Management and Budget about creating challenges and contests for how best to use publicly available data.

• And mandates that within 120 days, each agency will create an open government plan geared towards ensuring that the philosophies of openness, transparency, and collaboration are permanently “hardwired.”

In announcing the directive, which was posted Tuesday morning by OMB Director Peter Orszag, Chopra said there were three key themes that everyone involved in putting it together had sought to achieve. First, that the directive reflected Obama’s priorities and put the open government initiative into the hands of the executive branch. Second, that those involved have been and will be working together as a team with stakeholders at the federal level, in state and local governments, and with the public. And third, that the directive is focused on results. In other words, he said, Obama has “called on us” to deliver.

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Filed under Cabinet, Government, Obama Administration, Peter R. Orszag (OMB Director), Podcast, Transparency

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