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The 112th Congress may have interest in accessing information and documents from the executive branch. This report examines and analyzes the Obama Administration’s initiative to make the executive branch more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. On his first full day in office (January 21, 2009), President Barack Obama issued two memoranda “for the Heads of Execu The 112th Congress may have interest in accessing information and documents from the executive branch. This report examines and analyzes the Obama Administration’s initiative to make the executive branch more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. On his first full day in office (January 21, 2009), President Barack Obama issued two memoranda “for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” that were related to transparency in government. One memorandum focused on the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the other focused on transparency and open government. The transparency memorandum committed the administration to “an unprecedented level of openness” and to the establishment of “a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” Some scholars argue that these memoranda were a significant break from the policies of the previous administration. Over the next few months, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—a component of the Executive Office of the President—administered a series of online public feedback forums as part of a comprehensive Open Government Initiative (OGI). Through the forums, OMB sought input from federal employees and the public on ways to improve government transparency, increase public participation with the federal government, and encourage collaboration among federal government agencies, private citizens, and other entities. On December 8, 2009, the Obama Administration released a third memorandum, an Open Government Directive (OGD), that included more detailed instructions for departments and agencies on how they are to “implement the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration.” Among other policy initiatives, the memorandum required all federal agencies to release three “high-value” datasets that were previously unpublished. In addition, the memorandum required each agency to designate a “high-level senior official to be accountable for the quality and objectivity of, and internal controls over, the Federal spending information” that agencies currently provide to government websites like USAspending.gov and Recovery.gov. Each agency was also required to create an “open government plan ... that will describe how it will improve transparency and integrate public participation and collaboration into its activities.” The presidential memorandum included a series of staggered deadlines for implementing each part of the directive. Both the Administration and private organizations have examined federal agency efforts to meet the OGD’s requirements. These examinations have found that agencies met the requirements, but with varying results. Some agencies completed the OGD requirements by setting up required websites, but providing limited information or public participation. Other agencies explored methods of integrating their newly released datasets into their open government websites and providing forums for the public to offer thoughts on ways to improve the sites further. The 112th Congress may oversee the Administration’s open government efforts and has the authority to codify any parts of the initiative. This report reviews and discusses the centerpieces of President Obama’s transparency initiatives, the Open Government Initiative and the Open Government Directive. The report analyzes agency response to the OGI and the OGD and examines whether the OGD’s requirements can meet the stated goals of the Administration. The report discusses the three central tenets of the Administration’s OGD—transparency, public participation, and collaboration—and analyzes each one individually to determine whether agencies are meeting these requirements and whether the requirements may improve the effectiveness of the federal governmen


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The 112th Congress may have interest in accessing information and documents from the executive branch. This report examines and analyzes the Obama Administration’s initiative to make the executive branch more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. On his first full day in office (January 21, 2009), President Barack Obama issued two memoranda “for the Heads of Execu The 112th Congress may have interest in accessing information and documents from the executive branch. This report examines and analyzes the Obama Administration’s initiative to make the executive branch more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. On his first full day in office (January 21, 2009), President Barack Obama issued two memoranda “for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” that were related to transparency in government. One memorandum focused on the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the other focused on transparency and open government. The transparency memorandum committed the administration to “an unprecedented level of openness” and to the establishment of “a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” Some scholars argue that these memoranda were a significant break from the policies of the previous administration. Over the next few months, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—a component of the Executive Office of the President—administered a series of online public feedback forums as part of a comprehensive Open Government Initiative (OGI). Through the forums, OMB sought input from federal employees and the public on ways to improve government transparency, increase public participation with the federal government, and encourage collaboration among federal government agencies, private citizens, and other entities. On December 8, 2009, the Obama Administration released a third memorandum, an Open Government Directive (OGD), that included more detailed instructions for departments and agencies on how they are to “implement the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration.” Among other policy initiatives, the memorandum required all federal agencies to release three “high-value” datasets that were previously unpublished. In addition, the memorandum required each agency to designate a “high-level senior official to be accountable for the quality and objectivity of, and internal controls over, the Federal spending information” that agencies currently provide to government websites like USAspending.gov and Recovery.gov. Each agency was also required to create an “open government plan ... that will describe how it will improve transparency and integrate public participation and collaboration into its activities.” The presidential memorandum included a series of staggered deadlines for implementing each part of the directive. Both the Administration and private organizations have examined federal agency efforts to meet the OGD’s requirements. These examinations have found that agencies met the requirements, but with varying results. Some agencies completed the OGD requirements by setting up required websites, but providing limited information or public participation. Other agencies explored methods of integrating their newly released datasets into their open government websites and providing forums for the public to offer thoughts on ways to improve the sites further. The 112th Congress may oversee the Administration’s open government efforts and has the authority to codify any parts of the initiative. This report reviews and discusses the centerpieces of President Obama’s transparency initiatives, the Open Government Initiative and the Open Government Directive. The report analyzes agency response to the OGI and the OGD and examines whether the OGD’s requirements can meet the stated goals of the Administration. The report discusses the three central tenets of the Administration’s OGD—transparency, public participation, and collaboration—and analyzes each one individually to determine whether agencies are meeting these requirements and whether the requirements may improve the effectiveness of the federal governmen

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