The long-anticipated presidential directive on Transparency and Open Government was targeted by President Obama to be announced today – 120 days after he signed a memo directing the development of an Open Government Directive. I always thought that was a bit ambitious, especially since the officials designated to lead the effort had not yet been appointed. In fact, the head of that effort, chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra, had his Senate confirmation hearing only a couple days ago, so he’s still not officially in place.
In the build up to the release of the Directive, a number of open government and transparency advocacy groups have complained that the development process has not been open or transparent.
But it seems today is only the beginning! A Federal Register Notice was posted today inviting public comment on potential paths the federal government might take.
In addition, Valerie Jarrett, who heads the new Office of Public Engagement, posted a video on the White House website announcing an “important next step” encouraging citizens to contribute their ideas on ways to brainstorm new ideas for “creating a more transparent, participatory, and innovative government.”
Her accompanying blog offers four interesting links:
- A list of “open government listening sessions” the White House has sponsored in recent weeks, along with links to learn more about what occurred in those sessions.
- Links to a series of advocacy group and other recommendations the office has received in recent weeks, regarding potential approaches to act on the president’s goals of creating a transparency, participative, and collaborative government.
- Links to a “gallery” of open government innovations already underway across the government (like a link to the new, cool “data.gov” website promised by OMB’s new CIO, Vivek Kundra).
- A link to a new website designed to collect citizen ideas on potential open government approaches.
This last link, to the Open Government Dialogue, is also the same item noted in the Federal Register Notice. It asks for ideas that “may relate to government-wide or agency specific policy, project ideas, and relevant examples. Comments may address law, policy, technology, culture, and practice on issues such as:
- What government information should be more readily available on-line or more easily searched?
- How might the operations of government be made more transparent and accountable?
- How might federal advisory committees, rulemaking, or electronic rulemaking be better used to improve decision making?
- What alternative models exist to improve the quality of decision making and increase opportunities for citizen participation?
- What are the limitations to transparency?
- What strategies might be employed to adopt greater use of Web 2.0 in agencies?
- What policy impediments to innovation in government currently exist?
- What changes in training or hiring of personnel would enhance innovation?
- What performance measures are necessary to determine the effectiveness of open government policies?”
According to the Federal Register notice, you’ve got until June 19th to submit your comments. But according to Jarrett’s blog, she says there will be three phases:
- Brainstorming. Via the Open Government Dialogue, citizens can offer their ideas and vote on ideas posted by others, until May 28th.
- Discussion. A weblog will be used to flesh out the most compelling ideas, beginning June 3rd.
- Drafting. Join a wiki starting on June 15th to help draft recommendations in a collaborative fashion.
It’ll be interesting to see the scale of public response and whether these new Web 2.0 approaches are capable of handling the responses!