Version 1.1 of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Open Government Plan posted June 25, 2010 reflects a comprehensive and rigorous response to the feedback provided on the first version. HHS meets all of the requirements of the Open Government Directive (OGD) in its updated plan and addresses shortfalls identified in the original plan in detail. HHS should be given significant credit for the new disclosures about how the most difficult aspects of clearing the FOIA backlog are being addressed at the level of the Secretary’s Office and new disclosures about how classification and declassification is handled by the agency. The improvements to the core of plan in the revised version of the plan allow the agency to be recognized for “above and beyond” contributions, such as the five flagship initiatives with detailed milestones.
Also noteworthy are HHS’ efforts to include greater levels of detail than is evident in other agency plans. For example, the revised plan describes stakeholders for core agency activities, as many agencies do, and acknowledges that HHS must communicate “Accountability Information” for every major activity. This acknowledgement shows that the agency understands “Open Government” is about not only special initiatives or occasional disclosures of sensitive information, but also about reporting to the public on how it is performing in all aspects of service delivery. Additionally, the agency has detailed several significant programs aimed at improving participation, which, taken together, demonstrate a very high level of effort and allocation of resources on successfully embedding Open Government into the agency’s practices.
While the improvements in the revised plan are impressive, HHS and the larger community must not view this plan as a final version. The plan would be further strengthened by developing a versioning strategy for updates, as learning occurs in implementation and new ideas are generated.
View the original evaluation here.
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