In the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, issued on January 21, 2009, the President instructed the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue an Open Government Directive, Responding to that instruction, this memorandum is intended to direct executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to implement the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration set forth in the President’s Memorandum. This Directive was informed by recommendations from the Federal Chief Technology Officer, who solicited public comment through the White House Open Government Initiative.
The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government. Transparency promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing. Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions.
This Open Government Directive establishes deadlines for action. But because of the presumption of openness that the President has endorsed, agencies are encouraged to advance their open government initiatives well ahead of those deadlines. In addition to the steps delineated in this memorandum, Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this year issued new guidelines1 for agencies with regard to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). With those guidelines, the Attorney General reinforced the principle that openness is the Federal Government’s default position for FOIA issues.