Since President Obama was sworn in just over two years ago, the open-government initiative has blossomed. The goal of the project was to fulfill one of his campaign promises of more transparency in the federal government.[1] Anyone who has watched the Evening News in the last couple of years has heard of the numerous challenges that this plan has created. The amount of data that the government has is entirely overwhelming. Sorting out what should and should not be released, when, how have all been particular problems for the federal employees charged with carrying out the President’s plan. There is still not a primary strategy, but the Sunlight Foundation suggests that agencies are leaning towards releasing information central to their mission and do that well.[2]

 

As of yet, the White House has not made a requirement that the many agencies of the government have to approach transparency in the same way. I believe that this level of autonomy is essential to the program’s success. The working of each agency is incredibly distinct and the employees deserve to be treated in accordance with their experience. Should they fail to meet the requirements of the initiative then further regulations would be appropriate, but allowing each agency to run in its own distinct way should add to the strength of the government.

 

The newest part of this program is the requirement that they create a plan to make the transparency guidelines “accessible, downloadable and searchable online” during 2011.[3] This particular requirement falls on the shoulders of the government IT employee to find a way to archive all of this information on their websites while improving the search function. This will entail formatting of documents and much more website capacity. And I suspect the question on every IT person’s mind is where is the funding for this project? And with everything in the government, there isn’t an easy answer. There isn’t a standing budget for the country only a continuing resolution. Rumors suggest that the new IT budgets will be released in February. Until then, federal employees must devise this program without the expectation of further funding.


[1] Aliya Sternstein, “ Open-government initiative marks two-year milestone,” Nextgov, http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20110120_1053.php?oref=mostread, Posted on 20 January 2011.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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