Memorandum: Transparency and Open Government

Attached is a copy of White House memo regarding transparency and open government that I have markedup and highlighted.

The short explanation is that agencies should deploy new technologies, i.e., blogs, wikis and social media, to engage, collaborate with and solicit feedback from the public. The mantra: deploy new technologies and innovative tools for public participation, collaboration and feedback.

The memo expects recommendations within 120 days. At a minimum, the recommendation will include a blog on every agency website that allows and solicts comments.

Agencies should have a plan in place so that once the recommendations become mandate, they can hit the ground running and not have to scramble to make things happen. If agencies wanted to think the way the administration thinks, they would designate a New Media Czar or New Media Advisor or a New Media Director.


FROM:  President Barack Obama 

SUBJECT:  Transparency and Open Government

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.

Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, individuals in the private sector.  Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.

I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.


New Technologies – In other words, new media to include blogs, twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Return new technologies

Solicit public feedback – Allow comments on blogs, YouTube and Facebook pages.  Create sections on the web where feedback is encouraged. Return solicit public feedback

Government should be participatory – The is the concept of Gov 2.0, which is modeled after the concept of  Web 2.0 – where the collective wisdom of the community makes better decisions and provides better base of knowledge.  Wikipedia is a good example of Web 2.0 where the community participated to create the worlds first, free, online encyclopedia.  Gov 2.0 takes it a step further in that it create a mechanism to proactively solicit public feedback and comments.  Social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube can facilitates this as well as an interactive blog that encourages comments.  However, other custom built applications and wikis can do this as well in a more private and controlled forum. Return government should be participatory

Collective expertise of information – This is the basis of Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia developed by contributions of the collective wisdom of the public. Return collective expertise of information

Innovative tools, methods and systems – More of the same, Gov 2.0 modeled after Web 2.0 which is the use of blogs, wikis and social networking applications. Return innovative tools, methods and systems

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