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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Transparency: Open Government Operations

How do agencies make decisions about health care reform, economic recovery, and clean energy? Who are the decision-makers? With whom do they meet and from whom do they take advice? How do they work? Openness of government operations is crucial to ensuring accountability and effectiveness.

As the Obama Administration contemplates new approaches to making government more open, we want to hear from you. What do you – the non-profit fighting in the public interest, the company creating jobs for Americans, the journalist engaged in newsgathering, the teacher of civics, the mother and interested citizen – need to know about the way government works in order to feel more knowledgeable, to be empowered to participate, and to hold government accountable?

Many promising ideas emerged in the Open Government Brainstorm and the online dialogue with government employees. They included suggestions such as requiring every agency to publish a directory of employees, webcasting all Federal Advisory Committee Act meetings, using innovative, new technology to create more transparent, effective, and efficient procurement strategies, and developing agency-specific "Web 2.0" communications strategies. You can find a full list of ideas proposed in the Transparency Wrap-up posted last week.

Your ideas raise several important questions, on which we invite your thoughts and comments:

· How do we weigh the value of transparent operations against the costs required to report accurately and comprehensively on the day-to-day workings of government?
· How do we balance the demands of open government with the need to create spaces where advisors, experts, and stakeholders can speak candidly without fearing short-term political ramifications?
· How do we provide citizens with meaningful insights about how their government works rather than deluging everyone in overwhelming detail?

Tell us the three most important pieces of information you think every agency should be required to disclose about its operations. While you are at it, tell us how the private sector and government can best "mash up" such information (e.g. mapping campaign contributions against meeting schedules) to transform raw data into knowledge.

Robynn Sturm is Assistant Deputy CTO for Open Government.

I admire the way the Americans do things - transparent and accountable with clear checks and balances. Very techo-savvy as well trying to reach out to the masses as quickly as possible.

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