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 Data.gov and FedSpending.gov to disseminate data and USDA-sponsored sites to share program-specific information.
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.
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