The Obama administration announced more than 40 new or expanded open government initiatives as part of its third Open Government National Action Plan (NAP) released on October 27.
“The release is part of our membership in the Open Government Partnership – launched by President Obama and seven other heads of state – which in just 4 years has grown from 8 to now 66 countries,” the White House announced in a blog posting. “Member countries and their civil society partners are all working to increase public integrity, enhance public access to information, improve management of public resources, and give the public a more active voice in government processes.”
The Open Government Partnership hosts a summit every two years where countries outline commitments to advance open government. The most recent summit took place October 27-29 in Mexico City and included more than 2,000 open government reformers from member governments and civil society organizations.
The Obama administration’s first NAP in 2011 included a commitment to reform records management policies and practices across the executive branch. Following through on that commitment, President Obama signed a Memorandum on Managing Government Records, which put in place a process for establishing a reformed, digital-era, government-wide records management framework.
In 2013, the administration released the second NAP, which called on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to work with federal agencies to implement automated electronic management of e-mail records, implement the requirements of the Managing Government Record Directive to manage both permanent and temporary e-mail records in an accessible electronic format by the end of 2016, and establish voluntary data and metadata standards to make it easier for individuals to search publicly available government records.
Records management provisions of the new NAP commit the U.S. government to further initiatives to support the Managing Government Records Directive. It calls on NARA to release a public dataset of positions of government officials whose e-mail will come to the National Archives for permanent preservation under the Capstone approach, a system that allows for the capture of records that should be preserved as permanent from the accounts of officials at or near the top of an agency or an organizational subcomponent.
The plan also calls on NARA to introduce targeted questions regarding e-mail management to agencies through new and existing reporting mechanisms and to report publicly on agencies’ progress. NARA is also seeking feedback from civil society on ways to improve access to information about recordkeeping time frames in a records control schedule repository.
“The Administration will continue working closely alongside civil society as the commitments in this plan are implemented,” the White House blog posting stated. “The United States will continue to exercise leadership in the Open Government Partnership through robust engagement with civil society, and by leading by example here in the United States.”