December 8, 2009 By Matt Williams
Photo: Federal CIO Vivek Kundra. Photo by John Harrington.
A directive from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Tuesday orders federal government agencies to publish "high-value" data sets, launch Web sites for open government, and write agencywide plans that will hardwire transparency into the public process.
Federal CIO Vivek Kundra and Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra unveiled the long-awaited Open Government Directive during a live video chat on Whitehouse.gov. Chopra said the OMB "highly encourages" state and local governments to follow suit with similar transparency directives.
"One of the things that we were so proud of when Vivek launched Data.gov was how many state and local governments replicated the model," Chopra said. "We see this as a key pillar of public-sector work -- not just within the Obama administration. ... We think, we hope, this will be a helpful tool in support of state and local entrepreneurial activities to promote open government."
A 22-page progress report on open government also was released Tuesday by the Obama administration.
The Open Government Directive instructs federal agencies "to implement the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration" outlined in a memorandum the president signed in January, which spawned an initiative spearheaded by the White House. Federal agencies are directed to:
Chopra said the federal government should take advantage of today's technologies to collaborate with the public on everything from health-care reform to how the federal government does procurements.
"When you look to the output of this Open Government Directive, what this really says is that when we make decisions in Washington, we want to make sure we're held accountable for the results that we are expected to deliver," he said. "We want to make sure every American has a chance to weigh in on how those policies should be implemented, and we want to take full advantage of the capabilities of our modern world to collaborate in new ways in the execution of those policies."
Photo: Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra. Photo courtesy of Virginia Secretary of Technology Office
Over the next three months, as part of the directive the OMB will launch a dashboard that will track the progress of agencies' transparency initiatives; will review existing OMB policies to ensure they're in line with the administration's commitment to transparency; and will issue guidance on how agencies can implement "challenges, prizes and other incentive-backed strategies to find innovative or cost-effective solutions to improving open government."
The OMB's interest in prizes appears to be modeled from Washington, D.C.'s Apps for Democracy, a contest Kundra helped start when he was the district's CTO. Apps for Democracy challenges citizens to create open source applications that utilize data that the district makes public.
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