Friday, August 6, 2010

Better Broadcasting of Open Gov at the BBG

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) recently released Version 1.1 of their Open Government Plan. The updated version is notable both for the substantive improvements in the plan, and the continued commitment of BBG to work on improving their openness, participation, and collaboration -- despite not being required to by the President.

Our evaluator noted in his evaluation of the original plan that BBG communicated a strong interest in complying with the OGD; Version 1.1 of the plan reflects that desire. The new draft makes progress on meeting most of the Open Government Plan requirements that were not met by the initial version. Specifically, BBG includes information about how it handles Congressional requests for information, and highlights plans for future releases of data in more user-friendly formats. However, the plan would still be greatly strengthened by a clear articulation of BBG's key audiences, and their information needs.

Notably, the new plan proposes a Flagship Initiative to post an interactive map to highlight the breadth and width of the BBG's international audience. Undoubtedly, the map will improve public understanding of BBG's operation by presenting a clear picture of their world-wide operations. However, the description of the initiative is missing crucial elements that explain how the agency will measure success, engage the public, or make the initiative sustainable.

BBG's update is a good sign for open government at the agency, and across the federal government. The fact that an agency not required to make openness a priority continues to update and revise their plan indicates the level of commitment to improving transparency, participation and collaboration goes well beyond the Administration. Even though this project has moved from evaluating Open Government Plans to focusing on implementation, we are happy to see agencies continue this work.

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