A New Milestone for HHS Open Government
A few weeks ago I was invited to volunteer join an independent review effort of federal agency open government plans that were delivered by key federal agencies on April 9, 2010. The independent reviewers were organized by a non-profit transparency organization call Open the Government. Since I work routinely with health information and have gotten to know the complexities of this regulated aspects of health, I volunteered to lead the review of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) OpenGov plan. Each agency produced a plan in response to the December 2009 Open Government Directive issued by the Obama administration. The criteria for evaluation are delineated in the directive and we the basis for the scoring used by Openthegovernment.org.
Speaking for the effort on the HHS Plan, it is clear that the agency took the assignment seriously and made a strong effort to address each item (which is more than can be said for many of the other agencies compelled by this directive). Each point from organizational steps taken, to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) backlog reduction was addresses in the plan. Their final score from this neutral third party effort was 73% compliance. The White House scoring of the same plan gave the agency 100%. The gap in assessment and therefore areas of disagreement are in how specific the agency is in timelines for making data available and providing guidance for how much data the agency is sitting on and what amount of stakeholder involvement is reasonable to expect for this effort.
Stay tuned. This is just the first step in modernizing one of the most important and influential agencies in the federal family.