September 9, 2009 By Tod Newcombe
Photo: National Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra
Washington, D.C. -- In coming weeks, the White House will issue an open government directive as part of its broad transparency initiative, according to Aneesh Chopra, the federal government's chief technology officer.
Plans for the directive, which will require agencies to provide a specific roadmap for making machine-readable data available to the public, also were provided by Beth Noveck, director of the White House Open Government Initiative. Chopra and Noveck made their remarks Wednesday at the Gov 2.0 Summit.
According to Chopra, the White House is working through a draft process that will set principles for creating a structured process to open up data across the federal government. The principles will include a "structured schedule for release of data to the public in a machine-readable format," he said. "Agencies will also have to explain how they will engage the public in policymaking."
Noveck said the directive will create "specific agency roadmaps" to make them as open as possible. Not only will agencies have to provide machine-readable data, but they "will also have to adopt collaborative policies across all agencies," she said.
The directive was first announced in January during President Barack Obama's first week in office. In a letter Obama called for the Office of Management and Budget to establish a directive espousing the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration. The directive was to take effect within 120 days. Chopra pointed out that he wasn't confirmed by the Senate within that time frame.
Chopra also noted that the administration is working to set up new platforms, such as the IT Dashboard and Data.gov, as part of its open government process. "A key component of the directive is to hardwire the agencies to be more accountable to the public," Chopra said.
As the nation's first chief technology officer, Chopra has come under some scrutiny as to what exactly his job entails. He explained that his task is to serve as an assistant to the president, giving him advice on policy by bringing technology into the discussion.
Chopra said that part of his job is to get outside of Washington and meet with business and technology leaders to discuss ways that technology policy can impact the economy. He mentioned a recent meeting in Silicon Valley in which IT executives cautioned him about government policies that were detrimental to the market.
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