Tuesday, September 7, 2010

USTR Addresses Weaknesses, Improves Open Gov Plan

Although Version 1.1 of the Office of the United States Trade Representative's (USTR) Open Government Plan was not completed in time to be included in the final updated results of our open government plan audit, USTR should be applauded for producing an updated plan that largely meets all of the directive's requirements.

USTR's progress in meeting the requirements is clear from the explanation of changes the office has posted with the updated plan. In this document, USTR directly responds to the weaknesses pointed out by our initial evaluation. Most notably, the updated plan provides additional detail on how the office obtains and uses data, and its plans for making more data available for the public to use. The updated plan also addresses how USTR will measure the success of its flagship initiative, and how it will make the initiative sustainable.

There is still room for improvement in the plan, however. As the results of our final ranking show, agencies that are leaders in open government are going beyond just meeting the requirements of the directive. One of the key characteristics of "leading plans" are deadlines and specific steps to accomplish goals. As USTR's plan focuses on "goals" that are already accomplished, it does not include this level of specificity. Future versions of the plan would be strengthened by including more planning for the future, and less description of past actions.

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