Activists: Open the Open Government

Open government groups say as early as Monday they plan to send the Obama administration a letter that asks the White House to "to open the Open Government Directive process" to the public. Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra must submit recommendations for the forthcoming directive, which President Obama announced Jan. 21, to the White House by Thursday.

Obama has not sought formal public comment on what should go in the directive. The final product is supposed to foster a more transparent, collaborative and participatory government. Public interest organizations OMB Watch and Openthegovernment.org, which have been circulating the sign-on letter among government transparency groups, also have urged that Obama extend the deadline for recommendations to allow for public input.

"We are deeply concerned. . . that of the 120 days given to develop recommendations in President Obama's 'Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government,' almost 90% of the time has passed with no structured process for public input," the letter states.

The letter adds, "It has been reported the White House intends to disclose recommendations on the Open Government Directive to the public for comment using social media technologies. While we appreciate and support the administration's innovative use of technological venues to increase participation, we urge you to also undertake a formal 60-day notice and comment process."

"The formal 60-day process using the Federal Register is the typical comment process; publishing the recommendation in the Federal Register will also increase participation among members of the public who are not comfortable with social media technologies," the watchdog groups note.