NARA calls for public comments on how it can be more “open”

Also contained in today’s press release from the National Archives and Records Administration was a call for public comments to inform NARA’s development of its Open Government Plan:

The National Archives is also creating a plan that lays out what we need to do to further meet the goals of Open Government and how we will get there. To help the National Archives develop its Open Government Plan, we are asking the public to share ideas for a plan, including:

* Broad recommendations on how to conduct its work more openly
— Specific changes to internal management and administrative policies to improve transparency, participation, and collaboration
— Specific improvements to information dissemination practices, including recommendations for prioritization of improvements
— Specific recommendations for datasets to be published online
— Specific recommendations for improvements to the National Archives response to FOIA requests, including recommendations for improving the Archives FOIA backlog

* Broad recommendations on how to improve public participation in and feedback on the National Archives core mission activities

* Broad recommendations on how to improve collaboration
— Specific recommendations for improvements to how the National Archives cooperates with other Federal and non-federal government agencies, the public, and nonprofit and private entities in fulfilling the agency’s core mission activities
— Specific recommendations for how the National Archives should use technology platforms to improve collaboration among people within and outside the agency
— Specific suggestions for innovative methods, such as prizes and competitions, to obtain ideas from and to increase collaboration with those in the private sector, nonprofit, and academic communities
— Specific suggestions for a flagship initiative, how it would address the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration, and how it can improve agency operations
— Specific recommendations for how to engage the public and National Archives staff in the formation of its Open Government Plan and in future modifications of its plan

That’s quite a shopping list, isn’t it? I see the potential for volumes of feedback in those areas. Note that comments are due by March 19, 2010, which should give you ample opportunity to gather your thoughts and submit them in some coherent form via:

* E-mail:
* NARAtions blog: []
* Mail: Open Government Team, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, Room 3200, College Park, MD 20740-6001.
* The National Archives Open Government web page: []. Note: This web page should be available by February 6, 2010.

I think under the leadership of David Ferriero we may see NARA take some major steps forward in transforming itself and its relationship to the public. I encourage you give this call for input your attention, forward it along to colleagues and professionals in related fields, and submit your ideas. We will also have the opportunity to review and comment on NARA’s Open Government Plan when a draft is available, but why not start now and perhaps push them toward a plan that is more daring and creative than it might otherwise be?

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