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The White House Is Open to Your Suggestions on Openness

President Barack Obama meets with his senior advisers in the Oval Office on May 4, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)Got suggestions for how to open the federal government to citizens? The Obama administration is (almost) ready to listen.

In a notice published in today's Federal Register, the president's Office of Science and Technology Policy called on the public to send recommendations via a new White House Web page -- -- or via e-mail at [email protected].

The page is not up yet, but we'll be checking throughout the day. We've also asked the White House to tell us when the page will be up.

Today's solicitation follows up on a memo (PDF) that President Obama issued on his second day in office, which called for his chief technology officer, the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration to write a directive for making government more open. Obama pointed to three key principles of open government: transparency to help citizens know what their government is doing, citizens' participation in government, and tools for collaboration across all levels of government.

Whether your suggestion is about a specific agency or directed across the board, the administration is seeking answers to some of these questions:

  • What information should be available online?
  • How can government be more transparent?
  • How can citizens better participate in decision-making?
  • How can the effectiveness of openness be measured?

Get thinking -- the deadline for submissions is June 19. Comments, even those that come in by e-mail, may be made available to the public.

For one open-records advocate, Patrice McDermott, director of, getting agencies to manage electronic records is her No. 1 recommendation. "We now have no assurance that the records of the government that are being created electronically are being managed and preserved," she said.

She also hopes to see a culture shift from federal agencies' seeing information as belonging to them rather than to the public.

"We're glad the process is finally in place," she added.

Update: is now open!

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