Transparent Calendars

I’m reposting a piece I put up today in EPA’s blog, Greenversations. Feel free to leave comments here or on Greenversations; I’ll get ’em either way, but they’ll be more public over there.

Here it is:

A couple of weeks ago, EPA Administrator Jackson issued a memo calling for maximum transparency in everything we do. The memo put into EPA terms the ideas first espoused in the memo President Obama issued on his first full day in office, saying that government must be transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The overarching theme is that you, the public, are entitled to know what we’re up to.

Those of us in EPA’s Web community really took notice, because our site and various social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) offer so many ways to serve those goals. We have several projects underway.

image of a calendar pageOne of the first is that the Administrator publishes her daily working calendar showing meetings with the public. Next, she directed her senior management team to do the same.

We’re now setting up the process, and you’ll soon be able to see who’s meeting with top EPA leaders.

It occurs to us, though, that we could do better than simply giving you a calendar in table form. What if you could download multiple calendars across EPA and other agencies, and then create mashups as you saw fit?

So we want to publish machine-readable formats, too. And that’s where you can help us. Please let us know what works best: comma delimited, something else?

Also, please help us understand how you’d use the info; that’ll help us figure out how to make it easier.

We’ll be coming back to you to ask for your help on other questions, too, so here’s to a long, collaborative discussion!

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Zachariah Miller

This is an awesome initiative. If this happened everywhere, people could compile data showing which groups get the most face-time with government decision-makers and try to make correlations with policy, etc. Even without other agencies embracing the idea, EPA’s data alone will be interesting. Are the calendars of past administrators archived? What about making all that data available too, to establish a baseline of sorts?

Jeffrey Levy

Zachariah: no, we’re not going back in time. I’m not even sure we could.

Leo: what security implications? I suppose the answer is that we’re only providing details of meetings with the public. We’re not showing internal meetings.