The Open Government Partnership: Government Self-Assessment Report For The United States Of America


Start: 2011-09-20, End: 2013-03-29, Publication: 2013-04-04


The Obama Administration has committed itself to openness in government, because openness strengthens our democracy and promotes a more efficient and effective government. A government that is transparent is more accountable to citizens. A government that is participatory enhances government effectiveness and improves government decision-making. And a government that is collaborative engages all Americans in governing. Building on these principles, the Obama Administration launched the U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government ("Plan") in September 2011. In a little more than a year, the Administration has made significant progress implementing the Plan. This document - the Government Self-Assessment Report for the United States of America ("Report") - reviews the progress that has been made for each Plan commitment.

Through implementation of the National Action Plan, the Administration has worked to strengthen our democracy and promote a more efficient and effective government. The results thus far, outlined above, are measurable and substantial. The Federal Government has fully implemented many of its open government commitments, and made strong progress on others, working in close collaboration with civil society. But opening government is a long-term task that requires both building the necessary tools and a transformation of agency culture. The Administration's broader goals cannot be completed in one year. Thus, while the Federal Government has taken yet another important step toward achieving lasting change, the Administration recognizes that there is more work that can be done. The Administration remains committed to a sustained and long-lasting effort to make government more open. This assessment phase has offered the Administration an opportunity to reflect upon important lessons learned through the process of drafting and implementing the Plan. First, open government efforts require high-level Administration leadership, but top-down directives are not sufficient. Real change depends on leadership and innovation at the agency level. And supporting and highlighting promising open government practices in the agencies is crucial to lasting success. A second important lesson is the power of setting specific goals and timelines. While the government has broad open government objectives, committing to specific objectives makes it easier to measure progress. For example, the United States has made good progress implementing EITI partly because of the ambitious external and internal timelines that have been set. At the same time, flexibility remains important to achieve lasting change, especially when the ability to achieve a more ambitious open government goal means missing the original deadline. The U.S. Government observed this with the best practices for public participation initiative, which has been incorporated into a larger digital strategy effort. Meaningful change can best be achieved with a combination of concrete goals, iterative learning, and sustained long-term commitment and effort. Finally, the experience of implementing the Plan illustrated the importance of government directly collaborating with civil society. Civil society provided valuable insight as the Administration was developing the Plan, and has been an integral partner to many of the implementation teams throughout the process. With these lessons in mind, the Administration recognizes that there is still much to be done to make our government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The Administration shares the public's enthusiasm for and commitment to continuing this endeavor. The United States is determined to lead on these issues, and looks forward to continued participation in the Open Government Partnership and continued collaboration with civil society and the public over the coming years, as we work to advance open government together.