The New Open Government National Plan Reinforces Current Policies

Published: February 27, 2019

Big DataGovernment PerformancePolicy and Legislation

As part of the requirement in the Open Government Partnership among participating countries, the U.S. released the fourth iteration of its national action plan.

The Open Government Partnership, instituted in September 2011, calls for member nations to submit two-year plans committing to open and transparent governments for their citizens. Since then, the U.S. has released four National Action Plans, the latest issued last week. Overdue in its release, the fourth iteration of the National Action Plan (NAP4) proves to be the most ‘scant’ plan yet. Compared to the 2015 predecessor plan with 33 actions listed, NAP4 identifies only eight overarching goals that appear to be a repeat of many of the data policies, legislation and strategies released by the current administration.    

The plan is described as emphasizing “important themes ensuring that Federal Government data is more accessible, the grant-making process is more accountable, and Federally funded scientific research is more accessible, among a number of other commitments” and calls the initiatives only a “selection of high-priority deliverables.”

The action plan initiatives include:

  1. Leverage Data as a Strategic Asset: Publish a Comprehensive Federal Data Strategy. Borrowing a line from the President’s Management Agenda, the action plan mentions the publish of the anticipated Federal Data Strategy. However, the release of the Federal Data Strategy has been delayed due to the government shutdown earlier this year. According to the strategy’s latest quarterly progress update, principles and practices for final publish have been developed and opportunities to fund prototypes of data use cases have been investigated.
  2. Ensure Accountability for Grants. The plan calls for improved transparency into the federal grant-making process, labeling the System for Award Management (SAM) as the single source for all Federal grant recipient information.
  3. Provide Public Access to Federally Funded Research. The plan reiterates the Subcommittee on Open Science’s plans to provide recommendations that will promote public access to federal-funded research results including incentives to encourage researchers in open science practices and developing data standards for open science.
  4. Foster the Expansion of Workforce Data Standards. Focuses on improved leverage of data surrounding educational outcomes, job posting statistics and skills related to family-sustaining jobs.
  5. Create Agency-Level Chief Data Officers. This action plan has already been implemented through the passage of the OPEN Government Act last month. Under the signed legislation, federal departments are required to acquire enterprise-wide Chief Data Officers to be responsible for the agency’s data management, collection, analysis, sharing, use and protection.
  6. Using Open Data to Fuel Innovation to Improve Public Health. The action specifically targets leveraging data to improve areas in opioid abuse, lyme/tick-borne diseases and value based healthcare.
  7. Implement Intelligence Community “Enterprise Objective” on Privacy, Civil Liberties, and Transparency. Referencing the recently released National Intelligence Strategy, the plan highlights the national standard that protects the privacy and security of civil liberties while balancing the instillation of public trust in the IC and above all else, not risking national security.
  8. Expand Public Participation in Developing Future U.S. National Action Plans. The initiative promises to incorporate more geographically diverse citizen participation in the next national action plan.