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The Open Government Directive

14 December 2009
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On December 8th 2009, the Obama Administration set forth criteria that will govern its efforts at increasing transparency, participation and collaboration between executive agencies and the general public called the Open Government Directive. This directive is the culmination of President Obama's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government issued on January 21st, 2009. The directive consists of four broad objectives and associated implementation protocols for executive departments and agencies:

  1. The publication of government information online in open and accessible formats, including proactive dissemination of information rather than reliance on Freedom of Information Act requests.

  2. Improvement of the quality of available government information, including increased and clearer data on federal spending activities as related to each department.

  3. Fostering a culture of open government. This includes planning for the integration of public participation and collaboration into departmental activities.

  4. The creation of a hospitable policy framework for open government, including the identification of existing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policies, which may impede the use of new technologies and draft changes to such policies.


Ellen Miller, president of the governmental transparency organization Sunlight Foundation, has lauded the Directive as an "unprecedented plan…that demonstrates the seriousness of the Administration's commitment to data transparency and citizen engagement." This is also in line with the continuing goals of Project Vote Smart. The availability of information on governmental spending and other activities in open and accessible formats is conducive to the maintenance of an informed citizenry, which is the bulwark of a high-functioning and secure democracy.

At the heart of Project Vote Smart's activities is the goal of allowing voters the ability to utilize information about their particular candidates for public office in much the same way that an employer evaluates a prospective employee. Successful implementation of the Obama Administration's Open Government Directive may increase voter's ability to evaluate how the Administration's spending and other activities comport with their own individual priorities thus increasing the ability of citizens to "self-govern."

-Brandon Copeland, Membership Associate

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