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Snow or No, Federal Agencies Get "Open" Pages Up in Time

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, February 8 2010

Saturday was the deadline for federal agencies to get web pages up and running at [agency].gov/open, as per the President's orders in his Open Government Directive issued 60 days previous. And despite the snowpocalypsemageddon and DC's own special way of dealing with weather (panic!), all twenty federal agencies covered by the order managed to get something up before time ran out. (Check the list to the right to see how each agency went about setting up their "open" page.)

Beyond that, there's, frankly, not a tremendous amount to report. The requirement of the OGD on the web page front weren't hugely demanding. In addition to a page in place, all the agencies were really directed to do was to get "incorporate a mechanism for the public to...give feedback on and assessment of" how the departments were doing on the open government front. As Sunlight's John Wonderlich notes, many of the departments chose to simply plug in the GSA-approved IdeaScale tool for collecting and collaboratively vetting that feedback. [Update: Here's what GSA is telling agencies about IdeaScale that has so many of them using it.] Generally speaking, the open gov pages put up by agencies to meet Saturday's deadline are an act of digital flag-planting, functioning as placeholders for more in-depth open government work to come.

The White House had its own homework assignment due this weekend: developing an open government dashboard to track whether and how well the dozens of agencies under its purview are fulfilling what the OGD expects from them. That's up at WhiteHouse.gov/Open/Around. The barebones matrix color-codes the agencies on whether they're providing high-quality data to Data.gov and whether they've got their "Open" home pages up and running. The big, empty box still left to be color-coded? Whether the agencies have drafted comprehensive and meaningful plans to open up their processes in powerful ways. Those plans are due in about two months.

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