Open Gov: Who's late out of the gate?

businesspeople running track

It has been more than six weeks since the deadline for agencies to submit their 2014 open government plans has come and gone. Yet half a dozen agencies -- including the Office of Management and Budget and the departments of State and Veterans Affairs -- have still not released their outlines.

Three smaller agencies -- the Agency for International Development, Council on Environmental Quality and Office of National Drug Control Policy -- also have yet to release their 2014 plans.

The Open Government Directive established by the White House in 2010 requires agencies to submit biannual open government plans to the White House. The 2014 deadline was June 1.

As of July 8, 2014, when the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington published a list of agencies that were in compliance, the Small Business Administration and the Health and Human Services Department had also failed to release their plans. HHS posted its on July 10, and SBA followed on July 15.

More from FCW

A brief history of open data
From eight simple principles to today's vast ecosystem, here's what's happening -- and how to take full advantage.

The State Department said it too is close.

"The U.S. Department of State is committed to submitting an Open Government Plan which is thorough, informative, and complete," a State Department official told FCW. "We are currently working to ensure that this year's submission meets or exceeds all these expectations, and will have our formal submission ready to go in the near future."

OMB is a two-time offender, having failed to release any plan at all in 2012. OMB officials declined to comment for this story.

OMB indicated in May that it would file one this year, but that it would be late, according to Amy Bennett, assistant director at That notice came during the last in a series of three meetings put together by the White House that brought in open government groups such as CREW, the Sunlight Foundation and The first two meetings had representatives from various federal agencies, and the third brought in components from the Executive Office of the President to meet with the groups.

"This year there was a real effort to re-engage agencies and make sure civil society was a part of the creation process," Bennett said. "The White House made a commitment to improving agency implementation of the plans. Part of that was issuing new guidelines and reminding agencies that they need to pay attention to their stakeholders."

'The bare minimum'

So why should anyone care if an agency misses a deadline?

"Agency open government plans are one of the most visible examples of the White House's commitment to transparency," said Daniel Schuman, policy director at CREW. Failure to meet the deadline "suggests not all agencies are as dedicated" to the idea of transparency, he said, adding that the failures by some to meet the deadline might deserve additional White House attention.

We really can make some important progress if the agencies bring in people from the outside.

"But more importantly, while some agencies made a real effort to think creatively about addressing open government issues, too many are merely doing the bare minimum," Schuman said. "We will treat these plans as a good starting point, but we expect more from our government in terms of transparency and accountability."

More from FCW

A brief history of open data
From eight simple principles to today's vast ecosystem, here's what's happening -- and how to take full advantage.

The Justice Department is one of the agencies that made a real effort, according to Bennett. While DOJ is often criticized by those calling for more transparency, Bennett said this year DOJ incorporated input from into its plan.

Bennett and others from the group discussed their priorities with Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, and were pleased to see many of their concerns addressed in the DOJ plan.

"It's going to be interesting over the next few years," Bennett said. "We really can make some important progress if the agencies bring in people from the outside."

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above