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5/4/2010
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OMB Gets Low Marks On Transparency

The Office of Management and Budget is in charge of the Open Government Directive, but a watchdog group found its plan among the government's worst.

The government agency in charge of overseeing the Obama administration's Open Government Directive is ranked near the bottom of a new audit in terms of its own transparency plan.

The Office of Management and Budget's open-government plan earned the third-lowest ranking among 29 government agencies, according to an audit of plans by OpentheGovernment.org, an Open Government Directive watchdog group.

The Open Government Directive is the Obama administration's mandate that government agencies use the Web and new technology to make their activities more transparent and their services more accessible to the general public. The OMB was tasked last December by the administration with overseeing that agencies submit detailed open government plans.

According to the audit, the OMB's open government plan does not provide sufficient detail to explain how it will improve upon current transparency plans, neither does it provide a roadmap for doing so.

The OMB also fails to include how it came up with its plan or how it will keep the public informed of its progress, according to the audit.

OpentheGovernment.org suggests the OMB enhance its plan with new sections that describe its key audiences and the outreach the agency did to gather input for its plan. It also should show how it intends to keep the public informed of its progress.

The agency also should provide some specific milestones for achieving transparency that the public can use to mark its future progress, according to the audit.

Government agencies were required to submit their plans for complying with the Open Government Directive on April 7, and plans were to be filed according to certain criteria.

OpentheGovernment.org lists the required components of agencies' open government plans on its Web site. The group also provides information about the audit project and a detailed list of plan rankings.

Several weeks after agencies submitted their open government plans, federal CIO Vivek Kundra and federal CTO Aneesh Chopra said in a White House blog post that while they were a good start, nearly all of them needed improvement.

OpentheGovernment.org more or less concurred, although several agencies were applauded for having strong plans. NASA ranked No. 1 in the audit with the strongest plan, followed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The group also called out the Department of Agriculture, the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Transportation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Labor for submitting strong open government plans.

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