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Tactical Approaches and Governance relating to the Open Gov Directive

After combing through the Open Government Directive very carefully over the last few days, I transitioned from the strategic to the tactical and started asking the question: How are we actually going to get all of this work done in the next 120 days? Given, the directive calls for some discrete action within the next 60 days (three www.data.gov datasets, designating a responsible executive for financial data quality, standing up an open gov website), but most of what the Directive calls for in the next 120 days is planning—really intense strategic planning. So I went through the exercise of breaking down the directive into those things I see as essentially “one time reporting” and “strategic planning” requirements to better understand how to assign resources to specific components of the directive.

One Time Reporting Requirements
—These are the activities in the Directive that have deadlines in the next 120 days or require the Agency to describe and disclose current processes. These are presumed to be one time activities. There are about 12 of these requirements that should be the responsibility of specific subject matter experts in the organization (records management links, FOIA links and process, declassification, etc…)

Strategic Planning Requirements— These requirements detail the minimum content required to be a part of the Open Government Plan, per the Open Gov Directive, though more comprehensive and inclusive plans are not precluded. The Open Government Plan is the public roadmap that details how Agencies will incorporate the principles of the President’s January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government into their core mission objectives. There are about 22 (as I count them) high level requirements for the content of the Plan and they require a diverse team of folks to accomplish them. In order to divide up the work and align with the planning framework for open government we’ve suggested, I’d also suggest the majority of this work be conducted by technology, policy and culture working groups whose membership spans the organization. There are many people that should be involved in these planning efforts but there is a tradeoff between the size of a working group and the ability to create deliverables in a timely manner. Thus we suggest that three working groups be stood up to handle all these requirements in a timely fashion (we only have 120 days!):

• The technology group could tackle requirements such as “Include proposals for new feedback mechanisms, including innovative tools and practices that create new and easier methods for public engagement” and should include security, infrastructure, and tools subject matter experts.
• The policy group could tackle requirements such as “Include any proposed changes to internal management and administrative policies to improve transparency, participation and collaboration” and should include legal, performance, and policy subject matter experts.
• The culture group could tackle requirements such as “Describe how the Agency will foster the public’s use of information to increase public knowledge and promote public scrutiny of agency services” and should include human resources, public affairs, project managers and data subject matter experts.

I’ll flesh out more of these ideas soon on our blog (www.phaseonecg.com) but wanted to get some conversation started here. How are you approaching the governance part of the Open Gov Directive? Is your agency more concerned with the “one time reporting” or “strategic planning” requirements? Ultimately however one office should be the “PM” for managing all the diverse components of the plan for your organization. What office is that for you?

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

I do think the Open Gov Plans will be the most interesting and hardest part of the directive. Usually there are templates when creating plans - IT Strategic Plans are based on old agencies plans or other agency plans. There is no template for what these plans should look like...or how they will be created. I like the idea you propose about the 3 teams - policy, tech, culture...will be interesting to see what agencies actually end up doing.

Profile Photo Jenn Gustetic

I agree 100%. There's no copy/paste strawman here. Which is great to get us all thinking, but not so great when it comes to honing in on content (esp when the OGD is so vague). We are trying the working gropu approach at DOT and hopefully we'll have some best practices to share!