President Obama's Open Government Directive: Transparency, Participation, Collaboration

Content From: Miguel Gomez, Director,, and Senior Communications Advisor, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: January 12, 20102 min read


In my post last week, I mentioned President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, focused on making a “transparent, participatory, and collaborative” government. You may also have heard about some of the steps already made towards greater transparency in Government — take a look at the Open Government Innovations Gallery, to see some examples of new ways in which agencies across the Executive branch are using transparency, participation, and collaboration to achieve their mission.

To continue the Open Government Initiative, last month The White House issued the Open Government Directive to encourage transparency and civic engagement. The Directive requires all government agencies to launch an Open Government webpage that incorporates a public feedback mechanism. Agencies are required to solicit input from the public as we create our Open Government plans. Agencies must launch an Open Government webpage by February 6, 2010, and Open Government Plans are due April 7, 2010.

In addition, the Directive requires executive departments and agencies to publish government information online. According to the Directive, “each agency shall identify and publish online in an open format at least three high-value data sets”. The guidance provides specific details regarding the data sets which need to be published. For example, data sets must:

  • Be of “high-value”
  • Increase agency accountability and responsiveness
  • Improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations
  • Further the core mission of the agency
  • Create economic opportunity; or
  • Respond to need and demand as identified through public consultation.

Transparency and openness are important for a number of reasons — for one, open data allows people to do new and creative things with it. Check out Apps for DemocracyExit Disclaimer or the Apps for AmericaExit Disclaimer contest to see some of ideas people have come up with on how to use information in new ways. You can read more about the Open Government Directive on the White House website and the Open Government Initiative blog. Stay turned for more posts about Open Government on our blog.

How can improve our transparency? How can we make ourselves more accessible to you? What type of HIV/AIDS data would you like to see made public? We’d love to hear your feedback.