Tag Archives: Transparency

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

CREW and the Obama Administration Reach Historic Legal Settlement–White House Will Post Visitor Records Online

Guests and their canine companions from the Helen Keller National Center

White House guests and their canine companions from the Helen Keller National Center


Posted by Audiegrl
Today’s statement from the White House says that it will release the names of visitors. Three to four months after the visit they will be posted online. This does not apply to visits that are regarding national security, or extreme confidentiality, or visits to the First Family that are of a personal nature.

This new move will end the lawsuits filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a Washington based watchdog group. You can read more about what CREW is calling a ‘historic legal settlement here.

As another indication of his commitment to an open and transparent government, the President announced today that for the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be released. Each month, records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days will be made available online.
“For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis,” said President Obama. “We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside. Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.”

Aside from a small group of appointments that cannot be disclosed because of national security imperatives or their necessarily confidential nature (such as a visit by a possible Supreme Court nominee), the record of every visitor who comes to the White House for an appointment, a tour, or to conduct business will be released.

Previous administrations fought disclosure of White House visitor logs in court. This administration began a review of the policy during its first days in office.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government reform organization which has long objected to administrations keeping White House visitor logs secret, said in a statement from its executive director Melanie Sloan:

“Today the Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise. The Obama administration will have the most open White House in history. Providing public access to visitor records is an important step in restoring transparency and accountability to our government.”

The administration thanks CREW for their participation in the development of this new policy.

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