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U.S. Department of the Interior - Open Government Initiative
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Open Government Commitments and Results - Anniversary Update




April 7, 2011

DOI has been a longstanding supporter of the principles of open government - transparency, participation and collaboration - dating even before the Open Government Directive came on the scene.  The Open Government Directive served to reinforce DOI’s commitment to the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration and provides a rallying point for even greater commitment. 

Open government at DOI is about transforming the very fabric of its management practices to promote both employee and citizen engagement.  DOI sees this involvement as critical to the successful implementation of its complex and sometimes conflicting missions.  Broad involvement from across the Department and across multiple disciplines helps ensure that DOI”s Open Government activities aren’t just added on after the fact but are widely understood and appreciated.  DOI has a large, enthusiastic and interdisciplinary Open Government working group.  The working group led by an engaged political executive, comes from all levels of the organization to provide operational, management and executive perspectives. DOI’s steering committee  includes representation from technical, performance, collaboration and communications functional areas and advises the engaged senior leadership on issues and progress.

DOI is a strong supporter of the concepts of open data sharing and the transparency provided through this function.  DOI has made over 113,000 datasets available through Data.gov- the second highest total in the Federal government.  DOI continues to produce a steady stream of datasets to this platform and has adopted performance measures for its organizational units to track their contribution to this and other open government goals.  DOI is committed to ongoing production of data and is taking steps to identify and prioritize the publication of more high value sets.  Data publication is coordinated through a DOI wide Data Releasability Working Group that includes departmental representatives and bureau level Data.gov points of contact who work together to identify best practices for data improvement and publication. 

DOI’s Open Government flagship initiative is closely tied to an Administration and Secretarial priority - climate change. This initiative is focused on delivering improved access to climate change related data and data derived products such as reports and models for researchers, managers, government and non government partners, watch dog groups and the public at large.  This initiative clearly demonstrates the value of open government and is closely tied to a DOI High Priority Performance Goal and is of great interest to DOI stakeholders.  Individual bureau efforts in regard to climate change information management are being coordinated in ways not previously possible.  The identification of critical data sets that serve as key indicators for a wide variety of climate related impacts provides improved management capability and enhanced understanding of the areas and impacts of climate change not just on Federally managed public lands but also for state and privately held lands.  Increased collaboration is being fostered by this initiative in improving the discovery of and access to climate change information.  Beyond the ability to discover information, DOI’s climate change activities will provide new capability to aggregate information and improve consistency in analytical processing.  DOI is collaborating with internal and external partners to enhance access to information and information related products such as reports, plans and models.  The ability to link these elements will provide the foundation for increased community interaction and feedback.  DOI has reached out to key stakeholders to provide information on this initiative and to understand the interests and concerns of interested parties. An aggressive plan is underway to implement these objectives with robust participation from the research and data management communities from across the department.  In support of this effort DOI participated in a Federal panel of experts recently to discuss with good government groups how to make more information about the environment available and improve both technical and non-technical audience access to information.

DOI has responded to the interests of open government constituents by revising its policies to promote a more open and transparent posture.  DOI’s policies regarding scientific integrity have been revised to promote researcher ability to make research information more available.  DOI is reviewing its policies on communications, technology transfer and its approach to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).   DOI is formally inventorying its regulatory compliance and enforcement information and establishing a plan for increasing public access to this information.

DOI sees open government as a mechanism for improving agency performance.  DOI has implemented measures for its leadership that evaluate tangible participation and contributions to DOI’s open government commitments.  Outreach and communication with agency leadership, staff, partners and other interested parties is a critical element for the continued success of DOI’s open government goals.  DOI is committed to integrating open government into the daily operations of the organization and ensuring that long term growth is not bound by a single office or team.