White House open government directive arrives today

CTO Aneesh Chopra and CIO Vivek Kundra are scheduled to announce directive during an 11 a.m. Web chat

The long-awaited open government directive for federal agencies is scheduled to be announced today during an 11 a.m. Web chat hosted by federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, according to a White House announcement.

The public is invited to watch the announcement and pose questions to the two technology leaders, the White House said. Making additional suggestions about the open government plan will also be encouraged.

The primary goal of the policy is to increase the transparency and accountability of federal agencies, and to ensure greater access and information for the public, according to the White House.

On his first full day in office, President Barack Obama laid out his administration’s goals for open government and requested that recommendations be drafted by May 21.

White House officials got input from the public about the open government policy during a three-phase brainstorming, discussion and drafting process. The brainstorming phase ran from May 21 to May 28 and brought in more than 900 ideas and 33,000 votes, according to the White House.

The discussion phase ran from June 3 to June 21 and attracted more than 1,000 comments in response to 16 topics. The final drafting phase ran from June 22 to July 6 and resulted in 305 drafts by 375 authors, with 2,256 of people voting on those drafts.

During the drafting phase the public recommended definitions the federal government should use for what it means to be transparent. There were also recommendations on how to become transparent under the definitions.

For example, the ninth most popular draft suggestion, as voted on by the public, recommended that the central tenet of the policy should be to actively provide information to the public rather than merely making information available. The draft suggestion said the Data.gov Web site is a good start, but it is “sparse and largely uninteresting to the general citizen.”

“The transparency initiative should be a journalistic effort on the part of the government to aggregate all the daily 'news' for its citizens that is in the public domain and publish it (categorized by Agency and tagged with keywords) on a Web site that citizens can easily access, read and follow,” the suggestion states.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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