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Obama's Open Government Directive Nears Release

The directive, which is behind schedule, will require federal agencies to develop and outline specific actions they will take to be more open to the public.

President Obama's Open Government Directive will released by the end of this month, possibly within the next two weeks, according to the White House. The directive, which is overdue, will require federal agencies to outline specific actions they will take to be more open to the public.

The Open Government Directive was called for by Obama in his "Transparency and Open Government" memo, issued on Jan. 21, his first full day in office. The President directed federal CTO Aneesh Chopra to work with the OMB and the Administrator of General Services to describe "specific actions" agencies could take to implement the principles of open government.

It's taken longer than expected to complete and release the directive. In early September, Chopra said the document would be ready in a few weeks, but October came and went without its release. Now the White House is signaling that it will be released sometime this month.

On Nov. 3, the Office of Science and Technology Policy said through its Twitter feed that the President would release the Open Government Directive "in mid-November."

Chopra, in Baltimore today to speak at a tedX MidAltantic conference, was not as firm in his commitment. "I would be really disappointed if it isn't out by the end of the month," he said in a brief interview at the event.

The Open Government Directive is being developed with public input. In September, speaking at the Gov 2.0 Summit, Chopra said the directive would outline steps that federal agencies need to take to "hardwire the capability" for transparent, collaborative, participatory government into their processes. Among other things, agencies will be required to release more data in machine-readable formats for public consumption.

In the meantime, the Obama administration has taken a number of steps to release more information to the public, including launching the Data.gov, Recovery.gov and IT Dashboard Web sites, agreeing to release White House visitor logs, and promising to accelerate Freedom of Information Act requests.

Nevertheless, some have criticized the administration for withholding documents about companies and individuals who lobbied for immunity for warrantless wiretaps, details of the FBI's criminal database, and some other information the media and public interest groups have sought.

InformationWeek Analytics has published a guide to the Open Government Directive and what it means for federal CIOs. Download the report here (registration required).

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