Open Government at the National Archives

Transparency

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Transparency promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing.

The Open Government Directive describes components of the Open Government Plan, including transparency, participation, collaboration, flagship initiative, and public and agency involvement. The transparency component of the plan has the largest number of requirements, including a strategic action plan for transparency and identification of high value datasets for publication. We want to hear your recommendations for this component of NARA's Open Government Plan. Please visit the Open Government Idea Forum and NARAtions Blog to submit your ideas for improving transparency at NARA.

The Open Government Directive requires a plan to follow these guidelines:

Your agency's Open Government Plan should explain in detail how your agency will improve transparency. It should describe steps the agency will take to conduct its work more openly and publish its information online, including any proposed changes to internal management and administrative policies to improve transparency. Specifically, as part of your Plan to enhance information dissemination, your agency should describe how it is currently meeting its legal information dissemination obligations, and how it plans to improve its existing information dissemination practices by providing:

  1. A strategic action plan for transparency that (1) inventories agency high-value information currently available for download; (2) fosters the public’s use of this information to increase public knowledge and promote public scrutiny of agency services; and (3) identifies high value information not yet available and establishes a reasonable timeline for publication online in open formats with specific target dates. High-value information is information that can be sued to increase agency accountability and responsiveness; improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations; further the core mission of the agency; create economic opportunity; or respond to need and demand as identified through public consultation.

  2. In cases where the agency provides public information maintained in electronic format, a plan for timely publication of the underlying data. This underlying data should be in an open format and as granular as possible, consistent with statutory responsibilities and subject to valid privacy, confidentiality, security, or other restrictions. Your agency should also identify key audiences for its information and their needs, and endeavor to publish high-value information for each of those audiences in the most accessible forms and formats. In particular, information created or commissioned by the Government for educational use by teachers or students and made available online should clearly demarcate the public’s right to use, modify, and distribute the information.

  3. Details as to how your agency is complying with transparency initiative guidance such as Data.gov, eRulemaking, IT Dashboard, Recovery.gov, and USAspending.gov. Where gaps exist, the agency should detail the steps the agency is taking and the timing to meet the requirements for each initiative.

  4. Details of proposed actions to be taken, with clear milestones, to inform the public of significant actions and business of your agency, such as through agency public meetings, briefings, press conferences on the Internet, and periodic national town hall meetings.

  5. A link to a publicly available website that shows how your agency is meeting its existing records management requirements. These requirements serve as the foundation for your agency’s records management program, which includes such activities as identifying and scheduling all electronic records, and ensuring the timely transfer of all permanently valuable records to the National Archives.

  6. A link to a website that includes (1) a description of your staffing,
    organizational structure, and process for analyzing and responding to FOIA requests; (2) an assessment of your agency’s capacity to analyze, coordinate, and respond to such requests in a timely manner, together with proposed changes, technological resources, or reforms that your agency determines are needed to strengthen your response processes; and (3) if your agency has a significant backlog, milestones that detail how your agency will reduce its pending backlog of outstanding FOIA requests by at least ten percent each year. Providing prompt responses to FOIA requests keeps the public apprised of specific information matters they seek.

  7. A description or link to a webpage that describes your staffing, organization structure, and process for analyzing and responding to Congressional requests for information.

  8. A link to a publicly available webpage where they public can learn about your agency's declassification programs, learn how to access declassified materials, and provide input about what types of information should be prioritized for declassification, as appropriate. Declassification of government information that no longer needs protection, in accordance with established procedures, is essential to the free flow of information.

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