White House official advises on open-government plans
Plans on how to become more transparent should be road maps that identify what agencies want to achieve
- By Doug Beizer
- Feb 18, 2010
The open-government plans that agencies must publish by April 7
shouldn't be used to specify programs
that improve transparency but instead outline a series of
goals related to open government, said a White House official who is directing the
Agencies should view the plans as a road map that shows where they are now and where they
would like to go in terms of transparency,
said Robynn Sturm, assistant deputy chief technology officer for open government at the
Office of Science and Technology Policy.
"Rather than having a
one-size-fits-all mandate, the Open Government Directive asks each
agency to put together a road map for how they can best instill the
values of transparency, participation and collaboration into their core
mission on a day-to-day basis," Sturm said today at a discussion sponsored in part by Federal Computer Week.
Employees and the public are full of good ideas that agencies can tap
Agencies were given a lot of flexibility on what to include in their plans because of their widely varied missions, Sturm said. Nevertheless, each agency
should decide how to incorporate transparency into all its
activities rather than making it a separate function, she added.
"Think of it as a horizontal tool and approach that will
help you with everything you're already doing," Sturm said. "First,
think about what are the top things your secretaries know they want to
accomplish when they wake up every day. Then, think about how these new
technologies and how increasing transparency and the open approach
might be able to accelerate your success in achieving those goals."
For example, when the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes data about
how well certain child car seats work, it is successfully combining its mission with open-government goals, she said.
efforts to become more transparent could bear fruit,
agencies should be careful about relying too much on
technology to get the task done, said Mark Drapeau, director of innovative social engagement at Microsoft's U.S. Public Sector
unit and a regular contributor to FCW.
"Something I've been
seeing a lot is what I term dangerously digital, meaning agencies seem
to be setting up Web sites and waiting for people to come participate,"
Drapeau said. "It is like quenching your thirst by putting a bucket
outside and hoping it will rain."
In addition to figuring out
the technology side of open government, agencies should learn how to
interact with the public in a more social way, he added.
sites that ask people to submit ideas and vote on other people's ideas
do not really create social communities, he said. Having a relationship
with the people who care about a particular agency's mission is an important part of building a successful open-government program,
Other ways to pursue the social aspect of open government include putting certain agency employees in charge of
getting to know and communicating with those communities, Drapeau said.
Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.