Introduction

Introduction

This Open Government Plan for the Department of Education articulates Secretary Arne Duncan’s response to the Office of Management and Budget’s Open Government Directive (OMB M-10-06). That directive requires departments and agencies to document specific steps that will achieve the transparency, participation, and collaboration goals of President Obama and his administration. Also important, this plan expresses the values that are held by the Secretary and this Department concerning the role of openness in government.

The Department of Education embraces the principles of increased transparency, participation, and collaboration as essential to accomplishing its mission. By focusing on open practices and increasing access to data, we anticipate the creation of new information and knowledge that will help promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

The Department has developed a set of strategic goals and objectives for openness that will drive its work forward and allow it, and the public, to measure and assess its progress. These goals are:

  • Goal 1: Increase the Department’s transparency and accountability.
    • Objective 1.1: Provide clarity and guidance on privacy rules and regulations to ensure that information and data can be shared in a timely manner with the public while still protecting individual privacy as required by law.
    • Objective 1.2: Make more data and information available to the public.
    • Objective 1.3: Improve the timeliness of FOIA processing and document release.
    • Objective 1.4: Increase the transparency of the grant application and award process.
    • Objective 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department’s website about Department offices and key programs.
    • Objective 1.6: Foster more transparency in the larger educational community.
  • Goal 2: Solicit and incorporate more public input into Department operations.
    • Objective 2.1: Provide more insight into the agency’s decision-making process.
    • Objective 2.2: Provide regularly updated project maps, dated milestones, and financial data regarding open government and other key initiatives.
    • Objective 2.3: Collect and use input from the public and other stakeholders in decision-making.
  • Goal 3: Increase collaboration and communication with other organizations.
    • Objective 3.1: Enhance collaboration with other federal and non-federal agencies, the public, and non-profit and private entities.
  • Goal 4: Create a culture of openness within the Department.
    • Objective 4.1: Encourage openness and communication about effectiveness within the Department.
    • Objective 4.2: Enhance Departmental internal collaboration capabilities.

The Department has already begun and will continue to develop and implement activities that use these goals for producing higher-quality outcomes in more open and inclusive ways. Examples include:

Secretary Duncan and senior staff visited all 50 States on a Listening and Learning Tour. During this tour, parents, teachers, students, and the general public heard and shared information about the No Child Left Behind Act and new education reform. The Department deployed social media tools to enable the public to join the discussion online. This online discussion remains open, and the Department continues to review all feedback and ensure these tools are available for future reform activities. (Objectives 2.1 and 2.3)

The Department implemented a series of forums with stakeholders, such as representatives of schools, organizations, and State and local governments, to increase participation in discussions on topics such as the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Race to the Top, and the administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget request. Transcripts and videos of the meetings are posted on the Web for those who are unable to attend. (Objectives 1.4, 2.1, 2.3, and 3.1)

The Department launched the Federal Student Aid Data Center to provide a centralized source of information and data about the operation of federal financial assistance programs. (Objectives 1.2 and 2.2)

The Department posted spending and activity reports, information about technical assistance, staff contacts with lobbyists, and more regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (Objectives 1.2, 1.4 and 2.2)

Every recent session of the Federal Student Aid Conference was videotaped and posted on the Web. Future sessions will also be recorded and posted. The Department is implementing innovative solutions to capture, store, and distribute extensive video content going forward, increasing opportunities for collaboration with the public. (Objective 1.5)

Names of political appointees and biographies of senior leaders are easily accessible from the ED.gov home page. We will continue this level of easy access to information about key Department leaders. (Objective 1.5)

In February 2009, Secretary Duncan established the OpenED project to help identify cost savings and improvements across the agency. OpenED is a Department-wide employee idea-capture-and-collaboration project that allows employees to engage in ongoing, productive discussions about ways to enhance the work of the Department. It draws upon the institutional knowledge and creativity of all Department employees to improve programs and Department operations. The Department will continue to leverage this tool to increase transparency among internal stakeholders. (Objectives 4.1 and 4.2)