A Deep Dive in the US’ National Action Plan: Open Government Plans

In a recently released evaluation of the Administration's efforts to implement the Nation Action Plan, we note that the government's efforts could more correctly be labeled as "first steps" rather than the needed "leaps forward." We hope to give you a better sense of why we came to this conclusion by taking a deeper dive into the evaluation of the government's efforts for a few of these commitments. Now up: Open Government Plans.

The Open Government Plans commitment represents one of the key areas of divergence between the civil society evaluation and the government’s recently released self-evaluation. The civil society team considered this commitment—to monitor agency implementation of Open Government Plans—unmet. The evaluators were aware that a lot of work was happening behind the scenes. The interagency working group, meetings, and consultations with CFO Act agencies, are detailed in the government’s self-evaluation.

But the government’s implementation–and self assessment–of this commitment missed a key component. There was no public facing evidence of the monitoring of the implementation of open government plans. The dashboard remained out-of-date and incomplete. And while the White House encouraged agencies to consult with outside stakeholders before, during and after the creation of 2.0 plans, the civil society team only met with half a dozen agencies out of the 40 updating their Open Government Plans.

The creation of agency Open Government Plans was required by the Administration’s innovative Open Government Directive. The idea behind the Directive, and the Plans, is to encourage agencies to encourage agencies to articulate how openness helps them fulfill their missions, and build openness into the way they operate. This has been a clear success at some agencies. However, as the civil society evaluation notes, other agencies seem to treat implementation of Open Government Plans as a low priority or "check the box" exercise. It will take continued attention from the White House and public pressure to make sure all agencies are embracing openness and setting high standards.

To its credit, the White House’s evaluation does note the need for continued attention in pressure. In the report, the White House says they “will continue to work with agencies as they implement their open government plans.” We encourage them to do so in a manner that reflects the principles of the Open Government Partnership and allows the public to track agencies’ progress.

Download the Entire Evaluation HERE.

See our graphic to explore our process and results: Growing Open Government

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