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Open Government Plan - Introduction

I. Introduction

“President Obama took office with a call for unprecedented openness in government, and we are heeding that call.”

Gary Locke
Secretary of Commerce

On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued the first executive memorandum of his Administration, entitled “Transparency and Open Government.”  In his memorandum, the President established three guiding principles for the conduct of government activities; that government should be transparent, participatory, and collaborative.  On December 8, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued memorandum number M-10-06, “Open Government Directive,” providing guidance to federal agencies on specific actions to be taken to increase transparency, participation and collaboration in government.  This plan outlines the steps that the Department of Commerce has taken to date and will take prospectively to achieve this objective.

Commerce fosters economic growth and opportunity by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and stewardship.  For nearly 100 years, it has partnered with the U.S. business community to maintain a prosperous, productive America that is committed to free and fair trade, competitiveness, and environmental stewardship.  Commerce has a long-standing record of innovation in manufacturing, transportation, communication, and measurement standards, and has contributed significantly to U.S. leadership in the international marketplace.  It leads the way in dissemination of information, including economic and demographic statistics, technological innovation, weather and climate research, and marine resources management.  And as the Department prepares to enter its second century of service to the American public, it seeks to ensure that the United States retains its position as a leader in the world economy.

With this vision in mind, Commerce fully embraces the principles of transparent and open government established by the President.  Through this openness and the resulting interaction with businesses, nonprofit organizations, and private citizens Commerce will better understand the products and services that are needed, how to improve their usefulness, and whether they are effectively contributing to the Department’s mission.  Through this effort, Commerce hopes to increase transparency and accountability, develop a new paradigm for internal and external collaboration and public participation in the decision-making process, facilitate timely and high quality review processes, and encourage the establishment of innovative programs that strengthen the private sector by further leveraging available information.

The Department will leverage its data and services to accomplish these objectives by:

  • Continuing its leadership role in the initiative by increasing the number of high value data sets made readily available to the American public; 
  • Developing analytical partnerships with the private sector, including businesses, academia and nonprofit organizations, to broaden input received for consideration during the regulatory process;
  • Creating online tools to improve private sector access to Commerce services and to enhance understanding of its funding opportunities; and
  • Increasing the use of social media tools to encourage the public to participate in idea-generation and to provide feedback on Commerce initiatives.


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