Version 1.1 of the Department of Education’s Open Government Plan makes substantive improvements to the original plan published on April 7. In addition to clarifying how the agency handles requests for information, the updated plan includes details on extensive internal management changes to embed transparency, participation, and collaboration into the agency. Most notably, the agency is creating an Open Government Steering Committee charged with exploring ways to open agency meetings and creating an Open Government Policy Document to clarify how and where the agency uses public input. The updated plan also describes how the agency is using technology to measure improved transparency, participation, and collaboration.
The plan would be further strengthened by adding clear milestones and goals for each initiative, and by describing efforts to improve collaboration with non-governmental actors. The PDF version of the plan should be located on USDA’s /open first page (not buried several clicks away).
Finally, while the improvements in the plan and the agency’s commitment to investing time and money into open government are impressive, the agency does not maintain an archived version of the original plan anywhere, or outline changes in version 1.1, on the site. Public access to older versions of plans is a keystone for open government, and crucial for accountability.
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.