Department of Agriculture - Updated

The USDA Open Government Plan, version 1.1, underscores the understanding that expanding and acculturating openness is key to carrying out the business and mission of such a diverse, confederated Department. The plan emphasizes that awareness but offers little detail in methodologies and milestones in how it will be carried out or evaluated for success. That said, USDA has already implemented several activities geared to their primary stakeholders -- the agricultural community and its periphery, citizens, and other agencies and organizations with which to partner. Several examples include hosting Open Government Playbook sessions and sponsoring cultural transformation listening sessions. It would well serve USDA to publicize how the contributions of those activities were assessed, folded into USDA operations, tracked for the impacts of change, and the contributor (and public) notified. USDA is relying generally on OMB-developed venues, such as and to disseminate data and USDA-sponsored sites to share program-specific information.

More clarity in defining the roles, membership, and expectations of the USDA open government steering committees and workgroups would give more clarity in how the Department will reach its goals. More explicit mapping between open government activities and the FY 2010-2015 Strategic Plan would help make the outcomes of activities more measurable and managed. And more concrete detail in the plan in how technologies (such as social media, listservs) and activities could support communications with the public, advocacy groups, employees, and other agencies may help spur defining some thresholds by which success in openness, transparency, participation, and collaboration has been achieved and can be leveraged.

View the original evaluation here.

If you any think part of the agency's plan is impressive, or you have concrete suggestions on how the agency could improve its plan, please share your ideas with us using the form at the bottom of the page.

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