White House releases long-awaited Open Government Directive

Amanda Becker | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | December 8, 2009

The White House today sent the head of every federal department and agency long-awaited Open Government Directive on how agencies should increase "transparency, participation, and collaboration."

Obama requested the directive 11 months ago when he first took office and today's announcement is the administration's latest effort to increase government transparency by instructing agencies to provide information online, improve the quality of the information provided, promote a culture of open government and establish a framework to enhance openness within a set timeline.

The response from open-government groups was cautiously optimistic.

Secrecy News called the directive a "move beyond the familiar rhetoric of openness, the directive imposes substantive new publication requirements, sets deadlines, promotes sharing of best practices, and promises further steps to come."

OMB Watch noted that "the proof is in the pudding" however, saying "[t]his first step, the instructions to the agencies, has gone well, now our work must focus on ensuring the next step, implementation by agencies, goes equally well and produces substantive change."

The Sunshine in Government Initiative called the directive more of a plan than a concrete step towards transparency, noting that as agencies begin disclosing the mandated plans it will become apparent how much openness has been achieved.

"Today the White House released a 'roadmap' for transparency, but how agencies respond is where the rubber hits the road," said Rick Blum, coordinator of the initiative in a release.