Bonus Criteria Examples

Evaluators gave an agency one additional point (for a maximum total of 3 points) for any component where the agency, in the evaluator's opinion, exceeded the plan requirements in a way that promotes transparency, participation, and/or collaboration. The items below are illustrative and not exhaustive.


Ongoing data/information prioritization and release process (here ‘information’ is meant to indicate items beyond datasets, such as records, videos, etc.)
  • Role for public input on data/information prioritization.
  • Plan to have all agency data and other information currently released, as well as all new releases, site-mapped so the information can be indexed by and found through major search engines.
  • As an example, the plan documents and commits to implementing a permanent process for continuous, proactive identification, preparation, and release of data on an ongoing basis -- a pipeline which is explicitly incorporated into the strategic planning, IT planning, and budget formulation processes of the agency. The data prioritization process describes the criteria used to determine if data is prioritized for release. Criteria may include value of the data with respect to a number of specific dimensions, FOIA requests for data, public interest in the data, resources required to release the data, timeliness of the data, etc. The process may also provide for a mechanism for agency employees to suggest high-value data sets.
  • Consulting with a broad range of senior-level agency personnel, including Congressional Affairs, Public Affairs, legal and policy staff, relevant subject-matter experts, and the public to identify material for proactive release.
  • Commitment to make the following types of information available:
    • List of employees and how to reach them.  A collaborative and participatory government requires that citizens be able to contact employees concerning specific matters at each agency.
    •  Visitor logs for each of the agency’s decision-makers, made public in timely (every 3 months at a minimum) fashion.  If the agency is not currently keeping such records, the agency should have a system in place to both store and make public visitor logs within three months. The public has a right to know with whom agencies are consulting.
    • Contract and award documents, including Requests for Proposals, Contracts, Task Orders, Contract Modifications, etc.
    •  Communications between the agency and Congress, including responses to inquiries, testimony before committees, reports mandated by Congress, etc.
    • A list of all IG reports, with online access to all unclassified reports.
    • Records retention policy along with records schedules (GRS or SF 115) and a schedule of records that will be declassified and the timetable for such action.
    •  A list of all FOIA requests. Any documents released as a result of a FOIA request must be posted to the web in an organized manner, on a timely basis.
    • Audit of agency data sets with a public listing and metadata and, at a minimum, online publication of the data dictionary for each database.
    • Audit of information maintained, created by or for, or sponsored by the agency.
    •  Written and publicly available policies explaining how agency staff should communicate with the public and the media, and detailing the official procedures for peer review, clearance and release of agency information.
    • A calendar for top-level agency officials (e.g., the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Assistant Secretary).
    • Comprehensive, well-maintained, and searchable archive of documents, including those that have been removed from the website.
Truly new high-value data sets
  • A directory of data/information that are not currently public.
  • Explanation for “high-value” determination for each data set and other information.
  • Mechanism to allow stakeholders to provide feedback/reaction to high-value releases in effort to better identify future high-value releases
Excellence in processing FOIA requests
  • Posting and updating key FOIA processing metrics (size of backlog, FOIA requests received, processed, full disclosures, partial disclosures, etc.) on the agency Open web pages.
  • Statement of commitment to cooperating with new Office of Government Information mediation efforts.
  • Populate FOIA electronic reading rooms with top records being released in response to requests.
  • Commitment to conduct a systemic review of the entire FOIA process within the agency to identify roadblocks and to improve timeliness and transparency
  • Analysis of the workload involved in responding to FOIA requests and determination of the appropriate resource levels, and then ensuring that those resources are allocated
  • Setting up regular meetings between FOIA professionals and the agency Chief FOIA Officer to ensure an established dialogue between those officials, so that the Chief FOIA Officer can troubleshoot problems and facilitate timely responses
Cross-agency data release:
  • Specific commitment (data sets and deployment date) to execute at least one joint data release initiative with another federal department(s).
  • Emphasis placed on connecting with other agencies with common areas of intersection with members of the public.
Participation and Collaboration

Creation of multiple participation channels based on feedback sought
  • Ensures that plans for each participation channel are open for public input/feedback before the agency finalizes.
Monitoring, stimulation and incorporation of innovative uses of data
  • Mechanism to allow public to identify the data sets for which online interfaces and tools would be most useful.
  • Public discussions of barriers to innovation (difficulty linking datasets, format of data, lack of metadata, etc.) and possible solutions.
Impact of participation:
  • For each new participatory opportunity outlined, the agency commits to implementing at least one of the ideas emerging from public consultation.
  • In addition, the plan commits to provide the public with feedback about which ideas are adopted (and which ones are not), and why.
Ongoing public participation:
  • Commits to incorporating public input and collaboration into the agency's core decision making processes (e.g., considering opportunities for public input and collaboration with other entities as standard practice at the beginning of new programs or the redevelopment of existing ones, soliciting public input on key decisions, gathering ongoing public feedback on service delivery quality along with suggestions for improvement, etc.).
  • Outlines  how the agency will execute outreach to key stakeholder communities, including press, to inform them of participation opportunities available.
  • Details of existing mechanisms for citizen or stakeholder participation
  • Specifies in detail how programs or procedures for citizen or stakeholder participation will be expanded or improved
Agency Capability
  • Establishment of incentives (e.g. budget, training, professional recognition, or criteria for professional advancement) that encourage agency employees to incorporate greater participation and collaboration into their programs
  • Calls for the agency inventory tools and techniques for engaging citizens, stakeholders and employees, and creates processes for internally evaluating when and how to appropriately use those face-to-face and online tools and techniques
  • Establishes programs for training staff (from senior management to frontline employees) to improve participation and collaboration skills, and creates internal systems or communities of practice through which best practices in participation and collaboration can be shared among agency employees
  • Establishes how the agency will define and evaluate high quality participation and collaboration and establishes a process for monitoring how many people are engaged in agency activities, what the diversity is of those who are engaged, how citizens rate the quality of their engagement experience, and how feedback was used to influence decision making
  • Commits the agency to communicate to the public how their input and participation was used to inform and influence decision making or program implementation
  • Includes programs to strengthen the capacity of community organizations to better engage and involve the public in collaborating with the agency to fulfill its mission and goals
Leadership, Governance and Culture Change

Employee engagement and culture change
  • Central location for open government information for employees and public – laws, policies, regulations, training contacts, key officials
  • Training programs that ensure key officials are briefed on latest requirements of openness both laws and regulations (FOIA, FACA, Sunshine in Government Act, Federal Records Act, etc.)
Sustainable governance structure
  • Clear listing of leadership and governance of the overall agency.
  • Clearly delineates leadership responsibilities for open government processes and accountable officials for open government are named on the agency's Open Government webpage.
  • Ability to search all staff and agency offices and get contact information.
  • Demonstrated commitment to open government by executives, including a communication plan for the open government message to be consistently communicated from top leadership
  • Training for open government leadership roles to ensure that transitions to new staff won’t derail process
  • Describes the new governance councils that will be created or the existing governance bodies that will be formally charged with driving and overseeing open government efforts on an ongoing basis – ensuring that open government remains a priority and is integrated into the mission of the organization.
Alignment with strategic goals
  • Statements on the ways in which transparency, participation and collaboration can help agencies achieve better results.
Performance measures
  • Posting the agency’s performance score/results from the White House open government dashboard on the agency’s Open webpage
  • Up to date scores/performance on any agency selected measures in a central location on Open webpages
  • Ability to drill down into scores/performance to find out about agency activities, documents, data sets, etc. that relate to the score/performance
Cross-agency transferability
  • Shares all materials, results, tools, training, etc. that could be transferable to other agencies, with the Interagency Working Group as a means to centralize best practices.
  • Identify barriers to transferability between agencies (formats, metadata, definitions, etc.) and share with Interagency Working Group, other related agencies and the public.