Trump Administration Releases Plan for Open Government

The Trump White House has released their first National Action Plan for Open Government, the fourth plan released by the U.S. This plan outlines how the U.S. will increase access to government information for “developers, academics, entrepreneurs, and everyday Americans” over the next two years. This plan differs greatly from previous plans, and while some elements of the plan are new, others are already underway.

According to the report, this year’s plan has the goals of “fostering increased private-sector innovation, more advanced scientific research, stronger economic growth, improved public service delivery, and greater insight into United States Government operations.”

The six-page report focuses on eight initiatives, which are to:

  • Leverage Data as a Strategic Asset: Publish a Comprehensive Federal Data Strategy
  • Ensure Accountability for Grants
  • Provide Public Access to Federally Funded Research
  • Foster the Expansion of Workforce Data Standards
  • Create Agency-Level Chief Data Officers
  • Using Open Data to Fuel Innovation to Improve Public Health
  • Implement Intelligence Community “Enterprise Objective” on Privacy, Civil Liberties, and Transparency
  • Expand Public Participation in Developing Future U.S. National Action Plans

The plan has received criticism because several elements are repeated from previous commitments the president has made.  These repeats include the first initiative, which was first introduced by President Trump in March 2018, and the fifth initiative, which calls for a Chief Data Officer in all agencies, which was recently required by the bipartisan OPEN Government Data Act passed into law earlier this year.

In response to this criticism, White House officials told FedScoop that since the report is sent to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international network of countries working on increasing open access to government data, it was necessary to bring attention to domestic initiatives that might not be known about internationally.

The official said, “This action plan seeks to highlight relevant and illustrative commitments that advance open governance objectives and the broader goals of the OGP community.”

This plan differed greatly from third National Action Plan, which included 45 initiatives. The White House told FedScoop this was deliberate.

The official explained that this plan was mean to be a “streamlined” edition, based on OGP’s recommendation to focus on a few “high-profile, high-impact” projects rather than vague possible projects.

According to the report, in preparation for the fifth National Action Plan, the U.S. government will be conducting a series of “consultation sessions, in person meetings, and livestreamed discussions around the country” to better engage the public in these discussions and ensure the plan adequately addresses public needs for government information.

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