Department Roadmap for Incorporating Principles of Openness Into Core Agency Missions

We will continue to build on the solid foundation put in place during this inaugural year of open government. Our next steps will shore up this foundation and address sustainability by (1) institutionalizing open government practices with standards and procedures to ensure that these principles are adopted across the agency, and (2) ensuring that the Open Government Plan continues to be strategically aligned with the agency's mission as our strategic plan evolves and we work with Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We will:

  1. Institutionalize core principles across the Department: As the smallest Cabinet-level agency with just over 4,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, but the fourth largest as measured by funding appropriation, the majority of the Department's resources are appropriately dedicated to the program offices. These program offices oversee grant programs, which means that central support staff resources are limited. For open government to fully succeed at the Department, the practices developed over the past year must be internalized and institutionalized at the program office level. Over the next year, the Department will:

    1. Develop guiding standards for grant application transparency that can be applied across programs.

      Aligned to goals:

      • 1.4: Increase the transparency of the grant application and award process.

      Every grant program is different, but all should be subject to transparency principles. The Department has set a new standard for end-to-end transparency over the last year. We posted initial and approved applications for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and School Improvement Fund, and applications, scores, and comments for Race to the Top applications. These programs invited State-level participants, so the number of applications is relatively low. The Department is undertaking two different but equally high-profile ARRA competitions—the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) and the revamped Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). The Department has received a large number of applications for the i3 Fund and will have to use different approaches to achieve transparency on this scale. After gaining experience applying transparency principles to these diverse programs, the Department will develop a consistent set of standards to implement across all grant programs and communicate best practices to aid in effective execution of those standards. Our timeline is as follows.

      • April 2010—develop transparency policy for i3 (Completed)
      • December 2010—develop transparency policy for TIF
      • September 2010—publish competition results for both i3 and TIF
      • October–December 2010—develop Departmental guiding standards and procedures for competitive grant transparency, provide examples of Best Practices representing the range of approaches for achieving transparency for different types of grants.
    2. Develop guiding standards for financial transparency that can be applied across programs.

      Aligned to goals:

      • 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department's website about Department offices and key programs.
      • 2.2: Provide regularly updated project maps, dated milestones, and financial data regarding open government and other key initiatives.

      The Department has provided significant transparency into the flow of ARRA education grants to States through weekly agency reporting and quarterly recipient reporting. To increase transparency in State expenditures of Department funding, this level of reporting will be applied to non-ARRA programs on an ongoing basis. Over the coming year, the Department will develop user-friendly approaches, similar to the current ARRA weekly spending reports aggregated by State and by program, to presenting the State- and program-level funding already available on USASpending.gov at a granular level. In addition, the implementation of FFATA sub-award reporting will provide the Department with a new and more detailed source of transparency into the flow of funds. When this information becomes available, the Department will work to aggregate it in a format meaningful to Department stakeholders, similar to the current quarterly I Section 1512 reports posted on ed.gov. Our timeline is as follows.

      • October–December 2010—program spending report systems developed and tested
      • October–June 2011—FFATA sub-award reporting procedures developed and implemented
      • July 2011–December 2011—FFATA sub-award reports developed and tested
    3. Develop procedures for updating Web content at the office, initiative, and program levels.

      Aligned to goal:

      • 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department's website about Department offices and key programs.

      The Department's current Web design and content management workflow are barriers to effective use of the Web for many Department offices, initiatives, and programs. These barriers are, in turn, barriers to open government. We aim to lower these barriers through the adoption of a streamlined approach to content management, using a unified, open-source Web publishing technology, and more flexible templates for Web pages. It will be easier for offices, initiatives, and programs to post Web content quickly and display it more flexibly to meet their needs and their stakeholders' needs. As a result, we expect to see more effective use of the Web spread throughout our agency. As this system is implemented, we expect to see offices, initiatives, and programs posting news, information about upcoming competitions and workshops, slideshows from technical assistance workshops, schedules of upcoming events, and more. They will be able to engage with the public and stakeholders. To optimize execution of this significant change, the Department will take a phased approach, piloting the program in a limited number of offices, then phasing it in gradually, integrating learning with each successive implementation.

      Our timeline is as follows.

      • May–August 2010—pilot program Web publishing technology transition
      • September–December 2010—phased transition to offices and initiatives
      • May–Jun 2011—unified Web publishing technology available to all offices and initiatives
      • September–December 2011—unified Web publishing technology (or alternatives as required) available to all programs
    4. Rationalize program content sources.

      Aligned to goal:

      • 1.2: Make more data and information available to the public.

      The Department currently supports both an annual paper published source of program information (the Guide to Education Programs) and a real-time, Web-based source of program information. This dual system is inefficient and increases the risk of outdated information, threatening transparency. Assuming resources are approved to fund this project, the Department will integrate these two programs in 2011.

      • July–September 2010—integration funding requested
      • October–March 2011—integration project under way
    5. Address regulatory and statutory challenges affecting open government

      Aligned to goals:

      • 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.
      • 4.1: Encourage openness and communication about effectiveness within the Department.

      Data governance, including security, privacy policy, and IT investment management, is guided by a complex combination of laws, regulations, and directives that affect multiple levels of government, institutions, and organizations. The Department takes these requirements seriously and has mature, operating governance structures that place controls over all technology used to implement these initiatives. We will augment existing governance structures to address new challenges resulting from inconsistencies between the many regulations affecting rule-making and the realities of social networking and 21st-century technology. The Department will convene a working group, including OGC, OCIO, and core program offices to work with OMB-OIRA to develop a consistent approach to these issues at both the agency and federal levels.

      • July–September 201—working group membership and charter defined
      • September–December 2010—preliminary solutions identified
      • January–June 2011—final recommendation and implementation
  2. Ensure Strategic Alignment:

    Aligned to goal:

    • 4.1: Encourage openness and communication about effectiveness within the Department.

    The Department is currently at a pivotal point in its history. With unprecedented sources of funding through ARRA we are executing groundbreaking competitions, including Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, Investing in Innovation Fund, and Teacher Incentive Fund. We have proposed significant changes to ESEA, our largest appropriation driving many of our core programs. The Department's strategies will be fine-tuned as we gain experience with these new programs, and the final structure of ESEA will have significant implications for our Ed Data Express Flagship Initiative. The Department intends this Open Government Plan to function as a living document, continually subject to change as we gain experience with the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration, and as the agency's core principles evolve with continued strategic planning and ESEA reauthorization.

    • July–September 2010—preview 2011 strategic alignment budget to ensure consistency with Open Government Plan
    • September 2010—review current Open Government Plan to align with final Department Strategic Plan and ESEA reauthorization status
    • October–December 2010—finalize objectives of the Flagship Initiative

Institutionalize Grant Award Transparency

Timeline showing four events in time: Develop Investing in Innovation Fund Transparency Principles [April 2010], Develop Teacher Incentive Fund Transparency Principles [May-June 2010], Post Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation Fund, Teacher Incentive Fund Competition Results according to Transparency Principles [September 2010], Develop common Transparency Principles across programs/communicate Best Practices [October-December 2010]

Institutionalize Financial Transparency

Timeline showing three events in time: Develop and test standard spending reports and systems [October-December 2010], Develop and implement FFATA sub-award reporting procedures [October 2010-June 2011], Develop and test standard FFATA sub-award reports [July 2011-September 2011]

Simplify Web Content Update Procedures

Timeline showing four events in time: Pilot web publishing tools in 1-3 offices [May-August 2010], Phase web publishing tool to offices and initiatives [Sept-Dec 2010], Make web publishing tools available to all offices and initiatives [May-June 2011], Make web publishing tools availabe to all programs [Sept-Dec 2011]

Rationalize Program Content Sources

Timeline showing two events in time: Design process/request content integration project funding [July-September 2010], Complete content integration project [October-December 2010]

Address Data Governance Regulatory / Statutory Issues

Timeline showing three events in time: Convene Working Group and define charter [July-September 2010], Identify preliminary solutions [October-December 2010], Recommend final solution, develop and initiate implementation plan [January-June 2011]

Ensure Strategic Alignment

Timeline showing three events in time: Review administrative budget to ensure consistency with Open Government Plan initiatives [July-September 2010], Review current Open Government Plan to align with final ED Strategic Plan and ESEA reauthorization status [September 2010], Finalize Flagship Initiative (Education Transparency) objectives [October-December 2010]
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