USDA, brave open government explorer


Let's check in on the administration's open government initiative. Back when agencies released their draft open government plans in April 2010, I noted that the Agriculture Department's plan included a lot of plans to plan, encapsulated neatly in the phrases "exploring ways," "exploring avenues," etc.

In their latest open government plan (.pdf), USDA still appears to be planning to plan (i.e., "exploring") a fair amount:

  • To this end, the department is exploring avenues that would allow it to publish information like the Secretary and Deputy Secretary's calendar of public appearances.
  • The department is exploring ways to open the information dissemination process and make available the criteria for prioritization as well as the schedule for releasing data.
  • USDA is exploring ways to more clearly define its process for managing public feedback and requests received from its data-sharing websites.
  • USDA also is exploring the use of web-based communication and face-to-face strategies to extend its outreach and call to participation.
  • To do this, USDA is exploring leveraging its existing instructional systems and processes, such as AgLearn, to provide participation training and education.
  • In addition, as part of USDA's employee education process, the department is exploring ways to better leverage cross-agency collaboration and outreach communication protocols across mission areas.
  • USDA also is committed to developing and improving the skills and abilities of its workforce to more fully utilize existing and emerging collaborative tools. To this end, the department is exploring processes to formalize its standards, expectations and policies for collaboration with all stakeholders.
  • USDA is exploring ways to collect and share a library of collaboration successes.
  • The department is also exploring various ways to use technology to aid existing collaboration efforts.
  • On an internal level, USDA is exploring ways to maximize the use of social media tools and technologies to increase collaboration amongst employees and across agencies.
  • With sufficient resources, leveraging from the USFS Planning Rule, EPA's Rulemaking Gateway, and other efforts, USDA is exploring creating a crosscutting model platform for transparent policy participation, collaboration and education.

Admittedly, the plan itself is dated (from July 2010), and updated plans are due in April. But when Agriculture unveils its new document, might we expect that it's done exploring? - Dave

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