Yesterday, OpenTheGovernment.org and its partners (including POGO) released the results of an audit of updated Open Government Plans, the road maps for transparency that executive branch agencies were required to create as a result of the Open Government Directive (OGD). Yesterday also marked the release of initial audits of the Plans created by "extra" agencies, or agencies in the executive branch that were not required by the White House to submit Plans.
Overall, the agencies have made progress with these updates, and the willingness of agencies to incorporate feedback from evaluators into their Plans has been extremely encouraging.
Agencies released the first round of their Plans in April. OpenTheGovernment.org and its partners released an initial evaluation of these Plans in May, and committed to re-evaluating any Plans that were submitted by a June 25 deadline.
The next step for agencies, of course, is implementation.
For now, here's a quick review of the results of round two of the audits:
- Number of agencies required by the White House to submit Open Government Plans: 29
of these agencies that submitted revisions to Plans: 19
- Number of "extra" agencies that voluntarily created Open Government Plans: 10
- Total number of agencies submitting revisions, including "extra" agencies: 23
- Score given to an agency that met all requirements in the OGD: 60
- Number of agencies scoring 60 or above: 10
- Biggest improvement: 34 points, by the Department of Justice
increase in score for agencies that revised plans: 11
OpenTheGovernment.org enlisted volunteers from academia, good government groups, and others working in the public interest to conduct the audits, and POGO has been evaluating the Open Government Plans of four agencies: the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Merit Systems Protection Board.
DoD managed to improve its score from a 40 to a 53. One significant improvement was setting specific dates for agency actions, and setting goals to release additional high value data sets. The DoD could strengthen its Plan if it provided the public with opportunities to participate in core mission activities that specifically deal with accountability, such as weapons testing and contracting.
DOE earned a score of 43, improving on its original score of 31. DOE improved its Plan by providing details on how it processes Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and by taking first steps to identify its stakeholders. The Department could strengthen its Plan by indicating what changes it intends to make to its internal management and administrative policies. DOE should be commended for continuing to revise and improve upon its Plan after the deadline set by evaluators.
The NRC has improved upon an already strong Plan with its latest revision, bumping its score up from a 56 to a 59. As the Commission moves forward, POGO hopes the NRC will continue to build on the strong groundwork that it has established. POGO was pleased to see that Commissioner William Magwood has joined Chairman Gregory Jaczko in publishing his events and meetings online—it's now time for the other three commissioners and other top officials to get on board with this idea.
As an agency that was not technically required to create an Open Government Plan, MSPB should be commended for voluntarily doing so. The MSPB Plan included several strong first steps towards openness, such as stating the goal of soliciting more amicus briefs and holding more oral hearings. MSPB could strengthen its Plan by providing additional details about these initiatives. MSPB earned a score of 47 for its Plan.
Plans were scored on whether or not they met the requirements set forth in the Open Government Directive, with bonus points awarded for instances when agencies went above and beyond OGD requirements. You can find a detailed explanation of the methodology here, and read more about this project here.
Evaluators included: American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Center for Democracy and Technology, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, OMB Watch, OpenTheGovernment.org, Project on Government Oversight, Union of Concerned Scientists, faculty and students at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, and volunteers, Nick Keune, Giovanni Piazza, Ted Smith, and Charlotte Yee.
-- Bryan Rahija
- OpenGov Momentum at the NRC
- Kudos to Commissioner Magwood: A Step Towards Opengov at the NRC
- Results of Independent Audit of Agency Open Government Plans
- White House Releases Opengov Stretch Goals / Leading Practices
- Agencies Unload New Sets of Data onto Data.gov
- The Magna Carta for Government Transparency?