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."

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group