Agencies Make Data More Widely Available Through Data.gov

On Jan. 22, executive agencies posted hundreds of datasets onto Data.gov as required under the Open Government Directive (OGD). Many transparency advocates have lauded the administration’s efforts while at the same time raising questions about how well this first initiative under the OGD actually worked. The release of the datasets has triggered discussions about the value of the data, how individual privacy rights are protected, whether the datasets being released are new, and the quality of the data that has been released.

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Bite Taken Out of Chemical Secrecy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Jan. 21 a new practice that will prevent chemical manufacturers from hiding the identities of chemicals that have been found to pose a significant risk to environmental or public health. The policy is a small step to increase the transparency of the nation's chemical laws, and it highlights both the problem of excessive secrecy and the power of the executive branch to make government more open – even without action by Congress or the courts.


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Transparency: Change You can Trust

In 2008, we heard a lot about "change." In this 2009 year-end summary, we use another type of "change" to rate the Obama administration's transparency efforts thus far.

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Open Government Directive Hits the Streets

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the long-anticipated Open Government Directive on Dec. 8. The directive, a memo from OMB Director Peter Orszag to all agency and department heads, requires that all agencies develop and implement an Open Government Plan specific to each agency.

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House Moves to Give More Access for GAO, SIGTARP, and the Public

While the attention of many transparency advocates has been focused on the first round of recipient reporting under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act), the House has been working on two financial transparency measures dealing with the Federal Reserve and use of the Wall Street bailout funds.

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OMB Watch Unveils Recovery Act Recipient Reports Database

On Dec. 3, OMB Watch released a beta version of a new database on FedSpending.org that gives the public improved access to and searchability of Recovery Act recipient report data. The database allows users to search more than 160,000 reports from recipients of almost $159 billion in Recovery Act contracts, grants, and loans awarded between Feb. 17 and Sept. 30.

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OMB Watch Welcomes New Standard of Openness Heralded by Obama Administration's Open Government Directive

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2009—OMB Watch applauds the Obama administration's latest effort to create a more open and accountable government: the release of the Open Government Directive. The directive has been in development since the first day of the Obama administration, when the president issued a memo tasking OMB and other key officials to develop the directive.

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Secret Holds Continue in the Senate

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Washington, DC-based watchdog group, recently called upon the Senate Committee on Ethics to investigate the ongoing use of secret holds. The organization contends that senators have failed to abide by Section 512 of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA), which ended the use of secret holds. The group requested the committee discipline senators from both parties who have failed to abide by the procedures, as well as issue guidance to govern future conduct.

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OMB Watch Launches Recovery Act Data Tab on FedSpending.org

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2009—Today, OMB Watch released a beta version of a new database on FedSpending.org that gives the public improved access to and searchability of Recovery Act recipient report data. The database allows users to search more than 160,000 reports from recipients of almost $159 billion in Recovery Act contracts, grants, and loans awarded between Feb. 17 and Sept. 30.

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Technology Sector Increases Its Presence in Open Government Dialogue

In addition to nonprofit organizations, educational groups, and individual advocates, corporations have recently begun to stake out positions in the ongoing open government dialogue. Among these private sector actors are Adobe, Google, and Microsoft. These new voices are putting both money and technological resources behind an effort to advance the Obama administration’s commitment to transparency.

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