The Obama adminstration has made a major move toward realizing the president's promise, upon taking office, of more transparency in government. This has impact not just in Washington, but at the state and local offices of federal agencies.
All federal agencies have been ordered to carry out specific tasks and meet deadlines to increase public access to government information. The Office of Management and Budget last week issued an 11-page directive that also calls for agencies to use technology to distribute information, without waiting for people to file Freedom of Information Act requests.
The directive says that in order "to create an unprecendented and sustained level of openness and accountability in every agency, senior leaders should strive to incorporate the values of transparency, participation and collaboration into the ongoing work of their agency."
Among the tasks set out for federal agencies to meet in the first 45 days are:
-- Publish three "high-value" sets of data that have not previously been released in a downloadable format. (This could produce several local news stories, since federal agencies amass a huge amount of data.)
-- Designate a high-level official to be accountable for spending data made available to the public.
-- Form a new working group of senior officials to address transparency and accountablity issues.
The order also sets out other tasks to be accomplished in 60 or 120 days, including more open-goverment Web sites and plans for more transparency.
The full text of the OMB order can be found here.