recommended reading

White House defends transparency initiatives

The White House used a status report on its open government initiative released Friday as an opportunity to showcase the Obama administration's progress on transparency goals and to counter criticism that agency efforts to better inform the public haven't lived up to the president's campaign rhetoric.

The report hits back, for example, at critics of Data.gov, the governmentwide repository for agency statistics, who have said data on the site is too raw to be of much use to average citizens.

While acknowledging the data sets typically "require aggregation and synthesis," the White House argued the unprocessed nature of the data makes it easier for policy groups, businesses and others to tailor the information to meet their needs.

Transparency groups have praised Data.gov, which has grown to nearly 400,000 data sets since its 2009 launch, but have urged improvements to make information posted there more standardized, easily readable and searchable. Some also have complained that data posted to the site is often inaccurate -- because of collection errors at the agency level unrelated to the site itself -- and skews toward mundane studies on public library circulation and broccoli consumption in the United States rather than critical information about national security and similar issues. Friday's report did not address those criticisms.

Data.gov has logged more than 200 million visits during the past two years, and more than 2 million data sets have been downloaded from the site, according to the report.

Agencies responded to 56 percent of Freedom of Information Act requests with full disclosure between October 2009 and September 2010, the last full year for which data is available, the study said. That represents a 6 percent increase over the previous year, the report said.

The percentage of full disclosures jumped significantly more at some agencies, the report said, including a 21 percent hike at the Justice Department, a 90 percent hike at the Agriculture Department and 200 percent at the State Department.

Agencies also answered more FOIA requests with partial information rather than denying them entirely, the report said, and reduced its backlog of requests by about 10 percent. That push to partially grant FOIA requests rather than rejecting them has led to longer wait times in some cases, the report acknowledged.

The study highlighted efforts to release spending information, especially the economic stimulus site Recovery.gov, which White House officials and some members of Congress are considering using as a model to track all federal funds.

The status report also touted several smaller transparency initiatives in the White House, such as publishing the president's and vice president's daily schedules online and publishing visitor logs on a rolling basis.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.