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Public Involvement Network News

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

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Open Government

United States     

EPA  -- Several weeks ago EPA launched a new Open Government Web site to showcase our efforts to be more transparent, participatory and collaborative.  To learn more about the federal-wide Open Government Initiative visit the White House Open Government Web siteEPA's new Open Government site is a gateway to the Agency's Open Government activities and offers links to current and planned EPA projects and initiatives fostering public participation and collaboration. 

Please join us in identify ways in which we can better serve you by making more information available, promoting  public participation, and fostering joint efforts with other governmental and non-governmental entities.  We are offering a new tool for the public to provide input and ideas for our Open Government Plan.  The new tool is available via a link on our Open Government Site and at http://www.openepa.ideascale.com.  We welcome your ideas and would specifically like input on the following:

Please visit http://www.openepa.ideascale.com to contribute your ideas and suggestions.  This tool will be available until March 19, 2010.  Your ideas and comments will help us in developing an Open Government Plan that reflects public priorities and concerns.

Make Your Voice Heard  

[NOTE AND CLARIFICATION:  You will not be connecting to Agency Plans – you will be looking at the ideas that the public is generating for possible inclusion in plans now being drafted.]

On February 23, 2010, Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Public Engagement, posted a blog on the White House's Web site encouraging the public to provide feedback on each agency’s open government plan.

On February 6, the White House Open Government Initiative launched a government wide public participation opportunity unprecedented in the history of our democracy. As part of the Open Government Directive issued in early December, every major agency published an open government Web site. These pages went live in early February complete with the latest news and updates, downloadable data unique to that agency, and information about how each agency is moving to implement the President’s call for a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government. These new websites also incorporate a mechanism for online civic engagement.

These websites will be most effective with broad input from as many members of the public as possible visiting these sites and providing feedback on the development of each agency’s open government plan, including ideas for how to make the agency more effective and efficient and suggestions for data that should be published online.  These public brainstorms utilize similar free, easy-to-use tools as the White House used in soliciting public engagement in developing its open government agenda. People can post an idea, comment on the ideas of others, and rate and rank ideas to provide the agency with an ordered list of categorized suggestions. This is the first time something like this has been tried across the entire executive branch and we are eager to solicit input.

Now through March 19th, the American people can make a difference by logging on to each agency’s open government page and making your voices heard. We hope you will assist us in this historic effort to bridge the gap between citizens and their government.  It would be particularly helpful for you to provide specific suggestions for what agencies should include in required elements of their plans.  These elements include a strategic action plan to improve transparency, as well as agency proposals to use technology platforms and other innovative methods (e.g., prizes and competition) to improve collaboration. 

Start participating today – visit one or more of these websites and provide feedback:

To see the top ideas across government, visit OpenGovTracker.com or view the agency contact information for a complete list of all agencies, their contact information, their dialog tool URLs and RSS feeds, and other ways for the public to submit ideas. Ideas and comments that are submitted via email, phone, or other means will be posted on the agency's dialog site by moderators. That will allow others to comment and vote on these ideas.

This is the latest effort by the Administration to make the government more transparent.  Our other concrete commitments to openness include issuing the Open Government Directive, putting up more government information than ever before on Data.gov and Recovery.gov, reforming the government’s FOIA processes, providing on-line access to White House staff financial reports and salaries, issuing an executive order to fight unnecessary secrecy and speed declassificationreversing an executive order that previously limited access to presidential records, and webcasting White House meetings and conferences. The release also compliments our new lobbying rules, which in addition to closing the revolving door for lobbyists who work in government have also emphasized expanding disclosure of lobbyist contacts with the government.  And the President capped the year off by calling in the State of the Union for bold transparency initiatives (PDF, About PDF) as part of his reform agenda for 2010 and the years ahead.

Open Government Playbook Workshops

The ongoing Open Government Directive (OGD) Workshop Series is an unpaid, transparent, volunteer effort and a partnership between the public and private sectors.  Results, including videos of presentations, of the third (held February 17, 2010) in a series of four collaborative workshops are now available at http://opengovdirective.pbworks.com.

Each workshop has been spearheaded by a Federal agency and publicized online at OpenGovPlaybook.org. The purpose of the workshop is to foster meaningful collaboration across agencies and business sectors to transform the relationship between government and its citizenry. The next workshop in April will focus on sharing solutions for overcoming cultural barriers to implementation of the Open Government Directive.

This page has links to many resources to help in understanding Open Government and its principles of transparency, public participation and collaboration

United Kingdom

The British report, Putting the Front Line First: Smarter Government (PDF) (About PDF), notes that “Demands for accountability and transparency are increasing,” and that citizens want more of a say in shaping public services. The report is reminiscent of President Obama’s inaugural address: “The question is not whether government itself is too big or too small, but whether it delivers for people and communities with rising aspirations and expectations.”

The British initiative is based on three principles:

The report recommends actions in three areas, along with a detailed plan for moving forward:


The Australian report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0, is a draft from its Government 2.0 Taskforce. It proposes a “Declaration on Open Government” that reflects principles similar to President Obama’s January 2009 memorandum. The draft recommends that the government declare “public information is a national resource,” that technology should be used to increase collaboration in making policy and providing services in order to be “more consultative, participatory and transparent,” and that “Online engagement by public servants should be enabled and encouraged.”

The report is organized around a series of specific recommendations, including:

Other Taskforce recommendations address security, privacy, and accessibility. Many of the issues raised in both the UK and Australia are part of the U.S. Open Government agenda, so it will be interesting to see how the Obama Administration addresses them.

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