US checks easy open data goals off list

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The United States has completed 15 of the 26 open data goals it set in a 2011 action plan, according to a progress report by the Open Government Partnership.

Ten of the remaining goals are underway and one has been withdrawn. The 26 goals include tasks such as creating greater efficiencies in Freedom of Information Act administration, declassifying historically valuable records and expanding protection for whistleblowers.

“The United States action plan was highly varied and, in many respects, ambitious and innovative,” the report said.

The U.S. government withdrew its goal to launch ExpertNet, which would enable government officials to communicate with citizens who have expertise on a certain topic.

Despite meeting more than half of the goals, the report found the self-imposed goals left out many important problems that needed to be addressed.

“Stakeholders noted that many of what they deemed to be the most critical policy areas, many of which require significant political life, remained outside the action plan,” the report said.

Open data groups such as the Sunlight Foundation also took the accomplishments with a grain of salt.

According to the foundation, some of the U.S. goals were extremely vague. The foundation also pointed out OGP accepts governments’ commitments at face value and does not evaluate the terms governments set for themselves.

“National Action Plans to date have committed themselves chiefly to low-hanging fruit resulting in bias against fundamental questions of power, like military and state power, or money in politics,” John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, wrote in a blog post.

None of the U.S. goals addressed corporate responsibility or safe digital communities.

The U.S. is one of the eight founding countries of OGP and began formally participating in September 2011. To participate, countries must demonstrate a commitment to open government by meeting a set of standards set by the organization.

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data analytics, Government IT News, John Wonderlich, open data, open government, Sunlight Foundation, Tech
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