Sound off: What is open government?

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Last month, the Obama Administration issued its Open Government Directive, that requires each US agency to publish an Open Government Plan by April 7, 2010. Open Source for America (OSFA) intends to grade the various U.S. government agencies and their policies and practices as they relate to open source software and openness more generally. And they’re asking for YOUR help in shaping their Draft Guidelines for Open Government Plans.

Open Source for America’s Guidelines for Open Government Plans will help inform the different agencies about what policies and practices should be included in their mandated Open Government Plans. OSFA has opened this discussion on its website and plans to finalize its set of guidelines the second week of February, thus providing the agencies with sufficient time to take them into account before the April 7th deadline. Later in the year, the organization will issue a report card about the agencies, using these Guidelines as part of the process of the grading system.

To comment and make suggestions on the current draft, visit You have to sign up (membership is free) in order to provide input. So what do you think open government should look like in the U.S.? Now’s your chance to make your voice heard.

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droope's picture

Amazing. I would be really impressed by a government, if it made such move. An open government would be really democratic, if you think about it : )

Michael Richardson's picture

I read the document, and notice it uses the word "should" a lot.
You might want to read RFC2119
It has a number of words that are used in open standards.
For citizens to effectively interact with government, using the software of their choice, requires open standards. Sometimes it also requires reference implementations to be written
(the IETF sees this is as outside it's mandate).

Since open source america seems to be writing "should" a lot, you might want to either adopt RFC2119, or write an equivalent document to outline a set of terms like that.

melanie's picture
Open Source Evangelist

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your feedback. I would encourage you (if you haven't already done so) to post your comment on the Open Source for America website so it can be discussed there in the forum to improve the document.

btw- I completely agree with your comment about open standards. I know the committee at OSFA working on the Guidelines is planning to include language about standards in the revision b/c other folks have mentioned it in the comment process.