Online Transparency Discussions Move Forward

An innovative White House attempt to engage the interested public in the development of government policy on openness and transparency is moving briskly and, so far, productively.

An initial online brainstorming session attracted over 98,000 visits and generated some 2,450 “ideas” for increasing public access to government information, over 11,000 comments on those ideas, and over 200,000 votes in favor or against them.  The process threatened to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of proposals, not all of which were clearly focused or formulated, and some of which were eccentric or irrelevant (legalize marijuana!).  But the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy team that is managing the process was able to distill the best suggestions into a substantive but digestible core.

The next step is an online discussion of the particular proposals that is intended to flesh them out and to convert “lofty principles into specific actions” that the executive could take, said Dr. Beth Noveck, the OSTP Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government.  Interested members of the public are invited and encouraged to participate in the process.  To catch up on the latest developments, see the OSTP Open Government blog.

Other White House efforts to address overclassification and the spread of official controls on unclassified information have received a less enthusiastic reception.  Critics (including Secrecy News) expressed concern that these initiatives may be insufficiently ambitious in conception and that they provide no formal mechanism for public input.  See “Critics Blast Obama Classification Review” by Justin Rood, ABC News The Blotter, June 3, 2009.

No Responses to “Online Transparency Discussions Move Forward”

  1. Responsible Tax Payer June 4, 2009 at 8:15 PM #

    Legalize marijuana is not eccentric or irrelevant.

    Legalize it. Treat it like alcohol plain and simple. End black market and violence.

    I’m so sick of the Gateway Drug Argument. Alcohol is the ULTIMATE GATEWAY DRUG. It’s probably 90% of people’s first buzz. And if they like it, the want more. None of my successful friends that smoke got into heavy drugs like coke.

    It’s a shame that the people who get addicted and kill themselves with crack & cocaine get wrapped in the same category as an adult that want to smoke a joint on a Friday night….. What a weird world.

    Once it’s legal it will be exciting for the first 3 months. After that, the people who smoke now, will probably smoke the same amount. And the people who won’t, simply won’t. Not much will change. And if treated like alcohol. Kids will have as much access to it as a 6 pack of beer. In otherwords, if regulated, kids can’t get it.

    So legalize it. And to the folks that say NO and that have never done it, what right do they have to judge it?

  2. ereshkigal June 5, 2009 at 6:49 PM #

    The forum has places for random ideas about policy. Policy about
    substances is relevant.

    Consider what happened to chemistry sets due to restrictions on easy access
    to various chemicals, and its effect on the ability to tinker. If ideas around
    getting the government out of the business of telling folks what substances
    they may legally own or use is suggested, seems to me this is a good thing.
    These restrictions are part of a regime designed to keep information out of
    peoples’ hands in part by discouraging experimentation as well as the strict
    spreading of bits of information.

    The notion of steering questions to “openness” alone ignores the side
    effects of various laws and policies. The existence of restrictions on substances
    affects discourse and learning as well as medical or other uses. Your
    comments about what is eccentric are thus over-narrow in concept.