On February 6, the White House Open Government Initiative launched a government wide public participation opportunity unprecedented in the history of our democracy. As part of the Open Government Directive issued in early December, every major agency published an open government website. These pages went live in early February complete with the latest news and updates, downloadable data unique to that agency, and information about how each agency is moving to implement the President’s call for a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government. These new websites also incorporate a mechanism for online civic engagement.
These websites will be most effective with broad input from as many members of the public as possible visiting these sites and providing feedback on the development of each agency’s open government plan, including ideas for how to make the agency more effective and efficient and suggestions for data that should be published online. These public brainstorms utilize similar free, easy-to-use tools as the White House used in soliciting public engagement in developing its open government agenda. People can post an idea, comment on the ideas of others, and rate and rank ideas to provide the agency with an ordered list of categorized suggestions. This is the first time something like this has been tried across the entire executive branch and we are eager to solicit input.
Now through March 19th, the American people can make a difference by logging on to each agency’s open government page and making your voices heard. We hope you will assist us in this historic effort to bridge the gap between citizens and their government. It would be particularly helpful for you to provide specific suggestions for what agencies should include in required elements of their plans. These elements include a strategic action plan to improve transparency, as well as agency proposals to use technology platforms and other innovative methods (e.g., prizes and competition) to improve collaboration.
Start participating today – visit one or more of these websites and provide feedback:
To see the tops ideas across government, visit OpenGovTracker.com or view the agency contact information for a complete list of all agencies, their contact information, their dialog tool URLs and RSS feeds, and other ways for the public to submit ideas. Ideas and comments that are submitted via email, phone, or other means will be posted on the agency's dialog site by moderators. That will allow others to comment and vote on these ideas.
This is only the latest effort by the Administration to make the government more transparent. Our other concrete commitments to openness include issuing the Open Government Directive, putting up more government information than ever before on data.gov and recovery.gov, reforming the government’s FOIA processes, providing on-line access to White House staff financial reports and salaries, issuing an executive order to fight unnecessary secrecy and speed declassification, reversing an executive order that previously limited access to presidential records, and webcasting White House meetings and conferences. The release also compliments our new lobbying rules, which in addition to closing the revolving door for lobbyists who work in government have also emphasized expanding disclosure of lobbyist contacts with the government. And the President capped the year off by calling in the State of the Union for bold transparency initiatives (pdf) as part of his reform agenda for 2010 and the years ahead.
Tina Tchen is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement