December 24, 2013
Dear readers: First and most important, happy holidays to all! I am being really negligent this season about cards and greetings – with some reason but it still makes me sad. I will do better during the holidays.
The reason, or at least the alibi, is that I am hard at work in my new position that is pretty much overwhelming all else for the moment. The learning curve and the enormity of the task are a bit overwhelming.
As I mentioned since November 15 I’m the new Outreach Coordinator at OpenTheGovernment.org. This is a national association of “civic society” groups committed to access to information by and about the federal government – a well nigh infinite category of information. One current focus is on the National Action Plan for Open Government which was issued earlier this month by the White House. OTG is also coordinating US. agencies’ response to the Open Government Partnership, a global initiative. I’ll follow up with a brief fact sheet that will give the basics as well as the National Action Plan and the Open Government Partnership. Please share them all through your many channels.
Like a kid with a hammer thinking everything is a nail, my eyes and ears are tuned into federal information everywhere these days – from the labels on kids’ toys to wikileaks to who pays for federal research being conducted at the U of M to immigration, water quality and fracking! Government information is everywhere one looks – and if it isn’t there may be something to be done about that.
So that’s my job – to make people aware of how dependent we are on good information collected, organized, processed and made available in useful format by the federal government.
One thing I need is stories – stories of information you’ve used encounters with FOIA, educational tests, maps, food safety, SNAP, wherever you see room for improvement, gaps or ways information could be more accessible. Seriously! If you have contacts or resources in other parts of the country, agencies, at the federal level, I would appreciate your letting me know.
Keep your eyes and ears open for stories – good and bad stories – that “put a face” on open government. I would be grateful for any help you may be able to offer. Parables work best!
Needless to say, this may slow but it will not stymie my penchant for Poking Around! It’s a challenging position but a grand chance to learn and share – with your help we can raise public consciousness of just how critical open government is in life in this dynamic democracy.!