August has come and gone and the U.S.’s fourth National Action Plan for Open Government, commonly referred to as NAP 4, is nowhere to be seen.
The document of “public commitments to advance transparency, accountability, and public participation across government” is intended to guide U.S. open government priorities for the two year period between September 2018 and August 2020. In October 2017, a senior White House official working on the transparency initiative told FedScoop the creation of the document presents a “huge opportunity to give open government a refresh.”
Government entities like the White House Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, as well as civil society groups and the general public through a GitHub page, have been working to co-create the document for some time. In fact, a timeline of events on the co-creation webpage documents deadlines beginning in August 2017.
Initially, NAP 4 was scheduled for release in October 2017. However, on Oct. 31, 2017, then acting federal CIO Margie Graves sent a delay letter to the CEO of the Open Government Partnership, the organization that oversees these plans.
“The United States Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer notifies the Open Government Partnership that the publication of the fourth National Action Plan and related documents will be delayed until early 2018,” Graves wrote. “This delay will allow the additional time needed to fine tune a strong and quality action plan reflective of national priorities.”
In January 2018 the government again restructured its plans for release, setting the deadline of Aug. 31, 2018.
Commitments to past national action plans have led to the development of open information and data platforms like the We The People petition site and more.
However, some in civil society have expressed concern over what open government will look like under President Trump, an administration that has openly shunned transparency norms. Demand Progress, for example, declined to participate in the drafting of the NAP this time around, citing what it called Trump’s “authoritarian policies.”
OMB officials respond to this criticism by stating that NAP 4 is a governmentwide initiative.
“Consistent with all U.S. National Action Pans, the fourth U.S. National Action Plan will be a United States government document including priorities across the whole of government,” officials said in an October statement to FedScoop. “OMB is proud to support the fourth U.S. National Action Plan co-creation process. We have had bipartisan input on the fourth U.S. National Action Plan from a broad constituency through a series of in-person events and online submissions. We are continually committed to creating a more accountable United States Government that will best benefit the American people.”
Until the plan is released, however, it’s impossible to understand what this really looks like.
OMB did not respond to requests for comment.