I'm a big fan of the Open Government Directive that recently came out of the Obama Administration. I've spent the past 10 years of my life trying to help government improve transparency, participation, and collaboration, and this Directive speaks to what I care about and what my company, GovDelivery, has been trying to facilitate. We're launching a lot of resources in support of the Directive and have made embracing the Directive the theme of our first open Proactive Communication Roundtable of the year on February 9th in Washington, DC.
One of the components of the Directive I appreciate is an "after the slash" requirement for agencies to post their Open Government plans and progress at a specific URL-- in this case, "www.agency.gov/open." It's a novel idea, but it's something that has been used well by the administration in other areas-- notably with Recovery (see: www.dol.gov/recovery) for an example. Individual agencies use this concept now in other areas, but it's something that should be rolled out much more broadly.
However, the most important link should be /mission. Every website should have the mission or purpose of the website with a link to the metrics being used to track success as well as the mission of the agency. With all the "buzz" around new technologies and initiatives, I've been trying to go back to the importance of mission when we look at any agency's technology needs. I put a longer (more GovDelivery-centric) blog entry about this up on our client blog here.
These high profile initiatives (Recovery and now Open Government) have introduced this easy way of organizing websites to be more consistent across government. Let's institutionalize this concept across all levels of government and make sure mission is included. I see clear benefits to search engines, consumers of information across many government agencies, anyone looking for best practices, and others. One current example of the benefit is that the Sunlight Foundation has put out an automated check of whether each agency has an "Open" page up and running. These types of useful indexes of online activities and resources at agencies will be commonplace if "after the slash" standardization becomes widespread.
What do you think? What key items would you include after the slash?
This blog entry originally appeared in our Reach the Public blog.