May 22, 2009 | By Richard Esguerra

Administration Introduces Open Government Initiative Websites

The Obama Administration has launched several websites to further its commitment on the first full day of Obama's presidency to improving transparency and encouraging citizen participation in government.

On the transparency side, the Administration launched the hotly anticipated, a site that provides the public access to machine readable datasets from government agencies. The goal is to inspire innovative uses of government data by developers and researchers -- a process that has already begun with the Apps for America 2 contest, sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation, Google, O'Reilly Media, and TechWeb. The Administration also introduced the Innovations Gallery, which highlights pro-transparency efforts of government agencies.

On the side of citizen participation, the government is seeking public submissions to the Open Government Dialogue, a collaborative "idea" site (much like the "Join the Discussion" site used by the Obama transition team). The site will collect and rank policy ideas from the public on topics such as transparency, participation, collaboration, capacity building, legal and policy challenges, and more. The Open Government Dialogue is the first step in a three-part policymaking process that will include blog discussions and collaborative editing of the penultimate recommendations on a wiki. The Administration also relaunched to let the public voice opinions about government rulemakings.

While the Administration's early track record on transparency definitely leaves much to be desired, we're excited to see the government using the participatory, collaborative power of the web to enhance policymaking processes. We look forward to seeing more steps from the Administration to make the promise of government transparency a reality.

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