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One year after the federal Open Government Directive was released, the list of accomplishments is long: Detailed plans are in place, new Web sites have been launched, and more than 300,000 data sets have been released to the public. But how much of what's been done to establish a more transparent government--one that encourages collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as participation from citizens--is having a real impact? And what work remains to be done?
The Office of Management and Budget's open government scorecard, the feds' self-assessment, paints an overwhelmingly positive picture of the progress. Its visual dashboard, which grades 29 agencies across 10 categories, is almost entirely green, the color associated with "meeting expectations." In fact, there isn't a single instance in which one of the 29 agencies fails to meet OMB expectations in any of the categories measured.
Things are pretty good, but not that good.While federal agencies can point to many areas of progress, the to-do list remains long. The roster of unfinished work--including full-fledged public participation, creating a master index of government data, and reducing the backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests--is more critical to long-term success than anything done so far.
The road ahead could get rougher. Agencies may face budget restrictions, new federal cybersecurity and privacy policies, ingrained organizational resistance, a changing political climate, and a backlash to the widespread publication of confidential government correspondence via the WikiLeaks site.
President Obama set the direction for open government with his "Transparency and Open Government" memo on Jan. 21, 2009, one day after he took office. By December 2009, the 11-page Open Government Directive was in place, outlining a series of requirements. The top 10 accomplishments so far:
>> The establishment of an Open Government Working Group of CIOs, CTOs, and other C-level execs from across the federal government.
>> The publication of detailed agency open government plans and road maps.
>> The release of more than 300,000 high-value data sets in machine-readable formats on Data.gov.
>> The launch of Web sites that serve as portals to government data and provide tools to view and manipulate that data, as well as the government's use of wikis, blogs, Webcasts, and other social media to communicate with the public.