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White House Takes to Facebook, Proclaims Open Government Anniversary

Images: Buzzle.com, techpresident.com, fiscalaccountability.org, readystate4.org

Updated 2:22 p.m.: The Open Gov webcast has been rescheduled for 2:30 p.m. tomorrow, Dec. 8, because of the president’s press conference.

The White House is gearing up to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its Open Government Initiative, and in a nod to its Gov 2.0 goals, the White House is accepting questions via Facebook in anticipation of the live video web chat.

Back in December 2009, as the continuing congressional skirmishes over the proposed healthcare legislation hogged headlines, the Obama administration began a new chapter in technology, accountability and openness in government.

And, as the administration’s open government goals have been slightly bruised in the ongoing brouhaha over WikiLeaks, some of the original architects of the Open Government Initiative, including federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein will take questions from the public about their progress this afternoon.

Questions can be submitted on the White House’s website or on its Facebook page, both of which will also live stream the tech chat Dec. 7 at 2:20 p.m.

In anticipation of the event, ExecutiveGov takes a look back at some highlights from the Open Government Initiative’s first year.

  • Then-director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag got the ball rolling in December 2009, with a memo directing federal departments to make progress on key open government principles, including transparency, participation and collaboration.
  • Departments should publish government information online, create a culture of open government and support a policy framework for doing so, he wrote.
  • In February, the White House had launched an open government Dashboard to track federal progress. In the ensuing months, plans for openness from every department, even the Defense Department’s and the Department of Homeland Security, began pouring in.
  • By April 2010, every federal department had published an open government plan.
  • In that same month, the administration began looking at ways to increase federal spending transparency. Those plans came to fruition earlier this year with USASpending.gov to track spending at the prime and sub-award levels.

Along the way, there have been other open-government milestones, including Data.gov, the online repository of federal data and Performance.gov, which was still in the “kicking-the-tires stage,” in October, according to an Office of Personnel Management official.

However, when that site becomes available to the public, it will detail progress on six goals for accountable government, including reforming contracting, cutting waste and increasing openness.

Who knows? While the site has been delayed, it might just be ready as the Open Government Initiative, celebrating its first birthday this week, toddles out of its infancy.

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