Overview of How Version 2.0 of the Open Government Plan was Developed
Building on the experiences and methods used in the original HHS Open Government plan in early 2010, this planning effort was strengthened by a number of new engagement activities including uses of technology, external input, surveys, and broader input opportunities. The planning process is coordinated by the HHS Innovation Council under the leadership of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and the HHS Chief Technology Officer. The Innovation Council is represented by senior leaders from all HHS Operating and Staff Divisions. In December 2011, a plan was developed by the Innovation Council and submitted to the HHS Deputy Secretary. In early January 2012, a request for input across HHS leadership was issued by Deputy Secretary Corr providing guidance on opportunities for input on the key elements of the plan, including transparency, participation, and collaboration.
Senior management and program officials across HHS agencies were provided a standard template to identify activities related to transparency, participation, and collaboration with the public. In addition, two specialized areas of activities were added to address “smart disclosure” practices and “big data” activities. Smart disclosure activities relate to how the government information is made available to help citizens use tools to make better informed decisions. “Big data” policies and programs refer to large collections of data and analytics used to interpret the meanings of data. The National Science Foundation and Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President have led efforts to promote research and development, and policy considerations to address the opportunities and challenges of large datasets, including privacy and confidentiality. For the Version 2.0 Open Government plan, agencies were requested to submit planned activities for smart disclosure as well as big data. In addition, in early January 2012, HHS conducted a survey of program leaders, including each agency’s chief information officer. This information will help determine ways in which large HHS data resources for public use applications are being viewed strategically to support Open Government principles.
HHS also engaged the public in seeking ideas and input into the plan. In late January 2012, a blog post on the planning process was posted and social networking platforms were activated seeking public input. A structured questionnaire directing citizens to more specific questions for comment on Open Government activities was also posted. These comments have been used to guide topic areas for inclusion in the planning process and shared with the Innovation Council. A detailed survey of the executive secretaries of HHS’s more than 270 Federal Advisory Committees (FAC) was conducted, focusing on the FACs’ use of technology and social networking to engage the public in more meaningful ways of participation in HHS policies and programs.
During the development of this plan, staff from the Innovation Council, with the aid of the Assistant Secretary for Administration, met with leadership from many of the Operating Divisions and Staff Divisions to inform them about Open Government planning processes. This led to more constructive discussions about what topic areas and planning processes were underway to engage the public more effectively. These engagement efforts included more targeted outreach to stakeholder groups using webinars, blog posts, and other on-line outreach channels. Recent policy changes at HHS are helping to increase the use of social networking platforms for engaging the public more directly in seeking input on key issues and activities.
The planning process and input from the public will continue to be administered by the HHS Innovation Council including the review process and updates regarding implementation plans. The Innovation Council will also continue to coordinate with various committees focused on implementation of Open Government principles, including efforts to implement the HHS strategic plan for 2010-2015, the adoption of new media policies, and planning efforts to evaluate regulations in HHS that are redundant or no longer needed.
As the Open Government plan version 2.0 is put in place, continued outreach with the public is planned in settings and in situations where public input can be further integrated. New programs will bring new opportunities and capabilities for public input.